What Is Human?

I’m a Usaian (read A Few Good Men if this term confuses you) – I believe in Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  For humans, of course.

But what is a human?

The feeling that we need to answer this question and answer it definitely has been growing on me since before I wrote Darkship Thieves.

Actually, the question – if you also read my shifter series you’ll see what I mean – seems to be central to my writing.  It’s one of those things I can’t help letting drop into the “soup” of a novel, whether I intend to or not.

The reason for this is probably that, according to the current means of determining what and who is “human” I’m not.  And yes, I’ll explain this, but let’s leave this angle till later.  It’s personal and I think this is bigger than that.

As I said this has been growing for a long time, and I think advances in science – manufactured humans; enhanced humans; the possibility of growing anencephalic human bodies for brain transplant – none of it is here yet, but none of it is so far that we can’t see the place they exist.

And then the question becomes “where is that line?” Because see, when you’re drawing that kind of line, it moves.  If you say manufactured humans aren’t human because they were created outside the woman’s body by an artificial process, what does that make IVF babies?

And the problem with such lines is that whatever you use can rebound and include far more than you expect – or it can give people license to act according to their basest instincts, which is what all of civilization is designed to stop.

Right now, that line is blurry and moves.  Different people have different opinions.  And that gives the opportunity for incidents like the Kermit Gosnell mass murder spree to occur AND FOR NO ONE TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT for years.

If you know nothing about it, you should click on that link.  If you are a wussy and don’t want to, then let me tell you the general outlines.  In PA abortion is illegal after 24 weeks (I think) but for years, this creep was giving women “abortions” almost up to the date of delivery, or not asking how far along they were.  “Abortions” is in parenthesis because this unspeakable monster was delivering the baby and then cutting the spinal cord… of a fully viable baby.

There were other horrors, horrors that we’ve come to expect in this sort of thing, the same sort of horrors on any mass murderer’s den, or as a side effect of the camps in Nazi Germany.  It seems to be fairly common of the human mind to slide into things like body parts held for souvenirs, grisly jokes about the murdered and ultimately a devaluing of everyone else – Kermit Gosnell also used unsterilized instruments, perforated women’s uteri, left patients to die lying on filthy tables, covered with filthy blankets.

This type of devolution seems to be common to the human mind.  Yes, I know, you stand there and you tell me “Not me, I’d never do that.” But in fact, while it takes a special kind of evil (I almost typed “or insanity” but I won’t.  That’s me flinching from the truth.  I don’t think he’s insane at all.  He’s just evil.) to be Kermit Gosnell, it takes simply being normal to go along with it.

The thing that shocked me more than Kermit Gosnell’s actions, even his keeping of body parts in various containers, was his assistants.  These were mostly young, untrained, and their answers to why they did this were eerily familiar, “I was following orders.”

Look, let’s forget Hitler for a moment.  Mao.  The cultural revolution.  Millions dead, millions starved.  Yes, Mao was a mad man who will rot in hell (and to my atheist readers, rest assured if there ISN’T a hell I’ll make sure there is one just for him and Stalin.)  But Mao didn’t fan out to the countryside following his deranged orders, turning on his fellow man, forcing people to stop doing what they’d always done to grow food, reducing them to feral behavior and even cannibalism.

No, those were mostly “normal” people who’d lost their mooring on what they were and what their victims were and what made what they were doing monstrous.

Terry Pratchett says the only sin is treating people like things.  (Terry Pratchett is a secular humanist and therefore is clearly not properly trained in the ways of shame and guilt.  I could list a lot more sins just sitting here. Yes, this is said tongue in cheek.)  Robert A. Heinlein said that sin was hurting others.  Hurting yourself was just stupid.

They’re both right if not fully right.  Pratchett is right that in ultimate analysis, the last sin, the one that will rob you – yes you – of your own humanity is to get used to treating beings like you as things.  Heinlein is right on the hurt thing, which is another distillation of the Pratchett thing.  He is wrong that hurting yourself is just stupid.  Because when you treat others like things, it rebounds on you.  You start thinking of yourself as a thing.  And then you become… what humans become when they’re not trying to hold themselves up to any sort of ideal.  At the end of it the most normal human will end up snipping baby cords.

Christian,  Atheist, Agnostic Animist or  confused human beings who stop respecting humanity end up recreating the more lurid nightmares of Hieronymus Bosch.  It just happens.  It’s horrible and it’s human.

Which is why it’s important not just for us to decide where the line between human and non-human is, but to decide and to make it stick fast and bright.

Right now, it’s an individual line.

For instance, what Kermit Gosnell did was already against the law in Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania doesn’t allow abortion after  what is considered a viable age.  (And they’re out of date.  It’s been 20 weeks for at least twenty two years because I counted that very carefully in my first pregnancy.  Yes, explanation of that will come later.)

It is not however against the law everywhere in the country.  There are states, where it is legal to do what he did (except for the filth, etc.)  with one minor change – the baby can’t be DELIVERED when you cut through his spinal cord.  So doctors will turn the baby so it will come out feet first, so they can snip the cord while the head is still in the birth canal and therefore the baby isn’t LEGALLY born.  Yes, women have this done.  Yes, doctors – presumably psychologically normal human beings do this.

And this is why Gosnell’s associates didn’t know there was anything wrong going on.  And this is why the authorities turned a blind eye.  Yes, it was illegal in PA – but I mean, it’s a minor thing and it can’t be intrinsically WRONG because it is LEGAL elsewhere.

In essence, any baby – in practical treatment in the US – until its head emerges from the birth canal is only a human if the mother says so.

Hospitals will go through untold effort to save a pregnancy at sixteen weeks because the mother wants that baby very much.  The same hospitals will go through untold effort to make sure another one ends, because the mother says so.

Yes, I’ve heard the justifications.  One of my friends who was horribly abused as a child is very pro-abortion because (she told me) “if my parents had aborted me, they wouldn’t have abused me.”  This is insane in more ways than one.  I shocked her and surprised her by telling her “They’d never have aborted you.  They wanted you very much.  They needed a scapegoat in the family.”  I shocked her and made her think, but as with any such deep-set convictions, it wore off.

That’s essentially the justification for believing that those the mother wants (BTW this is very similar to the Spartan culling system, where the father chose which babies would be exposed and therefore weren’t human) are human and the others aren’t.  It is believed wanted babies are happier or better cared for.  In this it’s forgotten that mothers can want babies for all sorts of reasons, and that “wanting” is transitory, if all the ads to give away 1 year old, 4 year old, 7 year old dogs on Craigslist are any indication.

When I was eight years old, my mother – and no, she’s not a naturally cruel woman, but you’d have to have known me at eight.  I’m sure I tried the patience of a saint – in the middle of a screaming argument, told me that I was only there because my father had found her appointment for her SECOND attempt at aborting me.  He’d told her if she succeeded he would walk out. (Yes, there was a first.  Yes, it might or might not have killed a twin, depending on what hint and mumble you believe.  Unless pushed beyond endurance, mom will not discuss such things.)

So, you see, as far as “mother’s choice” goes, I am not human.  Or does the choice change because when I was born extremely premature and riddled with the normal issues of such babies who are not given the most up to date assistance, she fought and spent a small fortune to keep me alive? (Because she doesn’t believe humanity is mother’s choice.  And for the curious, there are extenuating circumstances.  Mom believed – justifiably – that she should not have children.  She also lived in a place and time where there was no contraception.  It might have been technically available – I’m almost sure that condoms were – but if anyone bought them in the village, the ENTIRE VILLAGE WOULD KNOW.  In a Catholic – it’s in the constitution – country like Portugal, back in the sixties, this could lead to ostracism or worse.  So mom had an excuse for desperate measures.  I don’t have to like it, but I admit it was there.)

Does it do something to you to know you were not wanted?  Well, yes.  It’s not helped by hearing things like asthma, which I had until I was 12, called “the illness of the unwanted child” which they did when I was small – apparently believing it mostly psychological.  Thank heavens they don’t do that now.  (And I can assure you it’s wrong.  My second son was desperately wanted.)

However, even if the relationship with mom was always fraught until recent years, I LIKE being alive.  I think even mom would agree that it would be a pity for her to have succeeded.  (Well, she would agree now, I’m not a teen.  But that’s sort of normal, right?  I spent most of the boys’ teen years going “I should have stuck with cats.  They can’t be mass murderers.  No thumbs.”)

So, there’s my bias.  I think I’m human.  My mother would not have chosen me.  Am I human?  If you cut me, do I bleed?

It is of course, ritually required, at this point to say “of course I’m pro choice.”  As with other ritual observances, I’m not going to that church.

“Pro-choice” is a nice, bland affirmation, avoiding all sharp jagged questions of the “who is human?” debate.  Who isn’t pro-choice?  I like choosing my clothes, and how I do my hair, and I like choosing what I eat and drink.  But when it comes to choosing who is human, who chooses?  And why? And does it make any sense?  Does it make a bright, bright light so we know “this is like me.  This I must not devalue, lest I devalue me”?  Or is it hidden under the bed, and secretive, and case by case?

Mother’s choice of course evolved out of “women’s rights” because, well, doesn’t a woman have a right to her own body?

She most assuredly does.  What she does not indeed have the right to is someone else’s body.  I don’t particularly care where that body is.  You can’t say “but it isn’t right to have a woman enslaved for months to bear some child” unless you have some other way for humans to come into the world.  You want women not to be “enslaved” bearing children, you invent an external bio-womb.  What you’re raging at is nature.  It is inescapable.   And please for the love of BOB don’t tell me “What if it’s a rapist’s child?” – we will go into that, but for now just rest assured (I’d bet you money) that you’re descended from hundreds of rapists.  I guarantee it.  Does that make you less human?  No?  Then why is a child less human because he or she was fathered by a scumbag?  Let me assure you the tendency to rape is not hereditary, unless you believe the worst feminist claptrap where all penetration is violation.  Every man alive is descended from rapists.  And yet rape is a relatively rare occurrence.  (Anyone bringing statistics from NOW which consider “I changed my mind” rape, will get hit but hard.)

Part of this is looking at pregnancies with the hysteria of adolescence.  We all become crazy teeny boppers when we talk about it.  “I don’t want this child in me foooooooorever”.

Yes, I’m fairly sure my first pregnancy (I HATE being pregnant.  Yes, I love babies.  Shut up.  Are you always consistent?) lasted a geological age, give or take.  But now, twenty one years later?  It was a quick thing.  I mean, you hear people say stuff like “We’ll have to live in this place till our house is built.  Doesn’t matter much what.  It’s a few months.”  That’s all a pregnancy is to the mother.  A few months.  To the baby it’s life and a chance at liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“But Sarah,” you’ll say “What about when the life of the mother is at stake?”

Well, that is different, isn’t it.  These are the dilemmas that try men’s souls.  There the decision would have to go to the mother, being sound of mind, or the nearest relative if not.  THAT is a case where it’s case by case.  And for the record, with #1 son I made that decision.  I had pre-eclampsia.  BAD pre-eclampsia for which I spent much time in the hospital and the rest of the time flat on my back.  I was told – argued at, cajoled – to have an abortion.  I chose not to.  I chose not to even though my husband would probably have chosen otherwise faced with losing me (The funny thing here is that every medical professional assumed he was the one not “letting” me have an abortion.  Apparently abortion is such an unalloyed good that women will NATURALLY want one, if the husband doesn’t stop it.)  It was not rational.  I risked both our lives, for nine months (PLUS THREE DAYS. – yes, I resent that) in order to chance that he’d come through all right.  It was what I had to do, because I wouldn’t be able to live knowing I’d killed him to go on.

Because that is the thing, see?  I couldn’t fool myself what I was killing wasn’t a human being.  We had worked too hard for that pregnancy, had ultrasounds from eight weeks in, KNEW he was there and was human.

So – am I saying all human life is human and therefore inviolable from the moment of conception?

I am and I’m not.  My friend Kate is very afraid that if abortion is made illegal there will be a period police making sure that if you missed a period, you don’t abort.  She says there are already laws criminalizing “bad behavior” while pregnant.  Well, all right.  There are laws criminalizing big gulps too (or were, in NYC) but there was no police measuring the cups.  There wasn’t because it’s physically impossible.  Even in a dystopian future, where a probe is inserted in each woman to notify you if she has bled, it would be impossible to correlate all the data and for human agents to take notice.  (Now if law enforcement is all done by robots it can be done.)  And the “mother’s bad behavior” thing is sort of like “hate crime” – persecutors will do that.

There is a time in every pregnancy where you can’t tell if it’s there.  I don’t know what the timing is NOW, but in my day it was “before the second missed period” you’re not officially pregnant.  I know that, because I miscarry early, and the only time I could get a doctor to intervene when it started, I had older son.  BUT the doctor intervened because I was at a specialized infertility clinic.  If I’d been at a regular hospital they’d have laughed at me.

I’d even go so far as to say that before the third missed period, a woman who wishes to fool herself (my mom, for instance who is, btw, anti-abortion) can say “I wasn’t really pregnant.”

And there are ways to stop a pregnancy WAY before that.  Yes, contraceptives fail, but there’s the morning after pill.  And if that fails, after the first missed period there are other interventions.

So, do I believe abortion should be illegal?  All the time?

I believe we have enough laws in the books.  I also believe murder is already illegal.  Whether it should be illegal or not is something else.  I can see reasons not to make it illegal.  BUT legal or not, (yes, there’s legal murder — self-defense) when murder happens, we know the person killed was a human.  That’s the important thing.  It’s not done lightly even when justified, the person killed is not robbed of his humanity.

Should we do the same with abortion?  Yes, there are justifiable causes (if the father decides to keep his wife and not the baby, say) but is the baby human? Until a woman gives birth to a litter of kittens, what a woman carries is a human being.  After that penumbra of the first two months (when most miscarriages occur, many of them unknown) if a woman aborts a child, yes it is murder.  It might be justified, but it is STILL killing a human. (It is the same in the first three months, but it is possible for people to fool themselves, and illusion is necessary for functioning human societies.)  What did you think she was killing?  A cabbage?  It’s a human, made of the same stuff you are – and don’t give me brain function or not being able to survive on his own.  By that definition, depending on who moves the line, you end up including everyone up to two years old.  The Chinese do.  Google China and dying rooms – to devalue him or her is to devalue yourself.

“Mother’s choice” is not working because it’s internally contradictory and nonsensical.  How can a woman be pregnant five months, and then suddenly the baby in her stops being wanted and therefore stops being human?

What makes you human?  Are you human?  What if your mother changed her mind?  Oh, you’re out of the womb?  Why should that matter?

Science is forever pushing back that line at which the baby is viable.  It’s also making other nightmares possible.  I’m not linking it here, but a commenter sent me a link to a blog talking about how it’s either already being done, or it can be done, that the ovaries of aborted babies can be grown to maturity in a few months, outside the body, and then the eggs can be used for “infertility therapies” – yep, egg donors.

So, are the babies born of those eggs human? Why?  Because their adoptive mother wants them?  Their real mother never got to be human.  How is that possible?

On the other side of that lies a chamber of unspeakable horrors.

We don’t need more laws.  I grew up in a country where abortion was illegal.  Page up to where mom tried to abort me once and had an appointment to do it again.  It was illegal. I have reason to think mom had several others.  I went to school with a girl who – at 17 – had had ten. (BTW, stories of coat hangers are mostly that.  Oh, it might have happened once or twice.  There are always the stupid and the isolated.  Most abortions were administered by doctors, quietly, and they were very careful because they didn’t want to get caught.  Most of them were also before the three month mark, for the same reason.  If people already knew you were pregnant, no doctor would do it.)

Laws against abortion won’t stop it, until the culture changes.  (Though at this point to stop the horrendous abortion mill-lobby, it’s almost worth it.  Almost but not quite.)

Abortions will still happen if we teach people what makes you human is your mother’s choice to have you or not.

Humans are funny animals.  RES said in comments “Oh, it’s easy to know what humans are.  They are people like me.  Not humans are those other people.”

This is at the basis of every human society.  “We’re human.  Those so and sos over there aren’t.”

The problem is, we’ve gone past tribes and we’re now looking at all of humanity.  You don’t have a dividing line between “human and non-human” that hinges on facial features or how they eat or where they live doesn’t apply.  And so the line has receded to “those who can’t fight back; those who can’t defend themselves.”

It’s a bad line.  If you can’t tell why let me explain.  As assuredly as I stand here, you too, no matter how vital, how strong, how full of assurance you’re human, had a time when others made decisions for you.  And as sure as I stand here, unless you’re very lucky, there will be a time they will again.

Who is human?  Make a decision that doesn’t hinge on case by case choice.  Decide whether it’s “before ten weeks there’s a high likelihood it won’t stick, anyway” or “We can kill them till they’re eighteen if they don’t park the car right.”  Make a decision and stick to it.

But before you do beware that people – normal people – will commit unspeakable crimes against those declared non human.  Be sure it’s something you can endure and that seeing their remains won’t break your heart and twist that which IS human in you.

I’m a libertarian.  It’s no part of my métier to tell you WHAT to choose.  I’m not pro-choice because when I DID have to choose, there was no choice.  It was “I can’t continue living with myself if I have him killed.” – that is me.  When I have to choose I will choose life. And not even (just) human life.  I’m not such a chowder head that I believe we must respect meat animals, (well, I wouldn’t be unnecessarily cruel.) The why of that is a discussion for another time.  BUT until then, I am the woman who will drive hours away in a snow storm to pick up a litter of orphaned kittens who probably won’t survive even with the best care I can provide.

That’s my bias.  I will choose life for humans and those animals which (living with us) partake a little of our humanity.

Your bias might be different.  But don’t fool yourself that it’s obvious, that we have the only system that makes sense, or that “of course” it’s this way.

Choose carefully between human and non human.  The wrong choice will leave you on the wrong side of it.  And no one will help.

641 thoughts on “What Is Human?

  1. Well said!
    I recall reading a story (true) about a young woman who survived a botched abortion. Many feminists cheered her – until they found out she had been the baby left to die, that someone rescued.
    How to choose what is human? Hard decision, but I’ll look at it this way: I will respect all life.
    Human is a biological term for those derived from human parentage. So, if it is, I consider it human; whether cloned, manufactured or sintered together by a 3-D printer.
    I’ve seen too many argue Quality of Life. I’ve also seen many people who dealt daily with a child who was — different. And I’ve seen the lessons on life they’ve learned and were able to teach others. Lessons on humility, on kindness, on compassion.
    But I have to ask those who would deny humanity to some segment of our race. Can we include you in that category?
    Because it is only fitting they should show the way.

  2. I have got to disagree with that model of Gosnell’s assistants. I’d suggest that they had a kink for consequence free sex, and had constructed their morality in support of same. Fundamentally no different from the pedophiles who lie to themselves about morality and their victims.

    1. Right! Like a preschooler is really aware of the morality of the act! Makes you wonder who is the maturer one.

  3. An acquaintance and her husband have been trying for several years to have a child. She got pregnant and is over age 35. The state of CA requires them to go to a doctor (NOT their OB-GYN, but a state doctor) each month, who told them on their first visit, among other things, that, “You know that the odds of having a child with Downs Syndrome are {number}.” The next month it was “You know that the odds of having a child with Downs Syndrome are {higher number.}” So, is the state of CA trying to spare high-risk families the difficulties of raising a child with potentially serious medical problems? Or is the state saying that it does not want to bear the burden of paying for a child with Downs? Or has the state decided that individuals with Downs Syndrome are not human and so should not be born? All three possibilities are, at best, disturbing.

    1. one need only look at the “special” treatment the left gave Palin’s youngest to see how they feel about those with Downs.

      1. Given the pressure I withstood because “your baby will be brain damaged ANYWAY” (I don’t even know if that’s true. Anyone here have a clue? Does pre-eclampsia cause retardation?) over and over again, I imagine what parents witha Downs Syndrome child withstand.

        Dan and I decided, though it’s now almost impossible (but not quite. My doctor says the oldest naturally conceiving mother she helped was 53) for me to conceive, that if I were to get pregnant after 40 we would NOT have the test where they take the uterine fluid to check, because if the kid were Downs Syndrome we weren’t aborting ANYWAY and we didn’t want to be bullied.

        1. Downs Syndrome children are beautiful, stubborn, and smart in their own way. They grow much slower, have many physical problems (my sister was lucky) and may die younger. If they do live longer than normal, the brain does mature and some of them can become self-sufficient in some areas. I knew an older Downs (about in his 40s) who was a talented classical musician. My sister can take care of herself (eat, change clothes, etc), but it took many years to get her to that point. Sweet and stubborn are the two words that I would describe most of them. The schools also want to mainstream Down syndrome children. I don’t think it is good for them. The children are too trusting.

          1. “Downs Syndrome children are beautiful, stubborn, and smart in their own way.”

            Yes to all three, and especially the stubborn part. I have a Downs sister and she is the most stubborn and persistently cheerful person I know.

            1. Yep, I have a friend with a Downs son (the son is actually older than I am). Stubborn, kind, and strong as an ox, would be how I described him.

        2. Thank you. I felt the same way having my first living child at age 35. Dr. was obnoxious in pressuring me for those genetic tests; I practically snarled at her and raked her with my claws. No I didn’t; I just felt that way. I was silently stubborn in resisting, though.. Next pregnancy, age 37, different doctor, long long conversation up front, only tests for my medical status (diabetes, whatnot), no problem.

          In retrospect I am a little frightened for my then-self. My second child was born with a heart defect that is far more common in Down babies than in the general population. Would a test as innocuous as an ultrasound have detected that; and would they have then pressed for abortion on that ground? I’m so glad I went “all-natural” with that one.

          Isn’t it invidious that even women and men who WANT to have children and “have a family” and suchlike feel such pressures to abort? No one is perfect; why do we as a culture think each pregnancy and each baby must be perfect or must be destroyed?

          1. My wife and I are both carriers for Cystic Fibrosis, and the doctors asked the wife if she wanted to have the amniocentesis done. The procedure actually has a small chance of causing a miscarriage/early labor, so she declined on the grounds that since she wouldn’t abort even if, why would she want to risk the miscarriage? We have 2 so far, neither with CF so we’ve done well with the odds on that, but they both came early and small anyways. (3 pound 6, 3 pound 11 ounces). Your decision makes perfect sense to me. Related: I read about that Gosnell fellow and I am appalled, angered, and sickened all at once, given our family experience.

            1. Exactly. Early in contemplating procreating, my husband was worried about birth defects. There is a serious birth defect situation in his family, so understandable. After research and after my telling him, in all my naïve glory of spiritual immaturity “it would be an opportunity for us to grow and learn to love more,” we proceeded apace … and then it took 2 full years to conceive … so yeah… not gonna take that miscarriage risk. Ironically, my 2nd’s birth defect wasn’t all that trying a situation in the big picture. Years later, there was a medical crisis in a different family member, induced by a defect that cannot be detected before birth … and that just about crushed our family, but not quite. So my prediction of personal growth came true … but in a different way. Even if we had tried, we would not have gotten it “right” according to current cultural demands. gak.

              1. I don’t see the whole spiritual growth thing with respect to kids. (Particularly a “right” kind of growth. My reaction is “Huh?”) I place them in the “unqualified good thing” category, ie, they’re an end on their own.

        3. The test we were pressured to use– keep in mind, I wasn’t even 30 at the time– would also have a 1% risk of causing a miscarriage. Just so you can maybe know that the kid has a genetic issue that can’t be corrected. *headdesk*

    2. I know a woman who twice tested positive for Downs Syndrome. The first time, she told her doctor what he could do with his test; the second, she refused to listen to the results until she was delivered.

      Both babies, BTW, were perfectly normal. Unsurprising. The false positive rate of the test is higher than the incidence of Downs Syndrome

      1. My fourth pregnancy I switched Dr’s midstream, and the only ultrasound was done at 27 weeks. They called us that night to tell us that the fetus (who we had found out that morning was a beautiful boy who was named on the spot Johann after his great-great grandfather. We’d been waiting for a boy) had ONE marker for Downs. As I told the Dr. ‘what do you want me to do, abort a viable child? for one possible marker out of 30-some odd?’ Needless to say, he is perfect. Well, physically anyway, 7 year old boy is rarely angelic!

        1. If that boy is not part devil, part angel and entirely human, you’re doing it wrong! Mine were hellions at that age. 🙂
          (and yep, I stole from Good Omens. Deal.)

    3. Then there’s possibility number four: wrongful birth lawsuit. Not saying that’s necessarily CA’s angle (could they claim sovereign immunity on that count, I wonder?) but I’ve seen the drill myself and wondered what the big push for birth defect testing was all about. Me being me, I did some googling and found out. 😦

    4. My opinion here, a person isn’t a person till they can survive on their own outside the womb with normal care (feeding, a bit of medicine if needed, warmth, etc)

      Prior to that, abortion in roughly the 1st and 2nd trimester I have no issues with.

      If it comes push to shove, a grossly disfigured fetus and/or the life of the mother is endangered that in some cases, later is acceptable. This is cold but the mother is already fully vested and the child isn’t.

      Bad enough mutation and I’d be fine if the parents were amenable to it, even after birth. It would be a very rare thing though and while no doubt I could find plenty of pictures that would show appropriate circumstances , grossing out everyone on the 1st post is gauche.

      As for what California is doing, both and good. The less birth defects in this world the better,. If a person wants to have children, they need to be in a stable arrangement by the late 20’s if not sooner.

      Now granted we need an economic system that makes this possible or we will suffer the consequences, heck we are suffering them with mainly r selection people reproducing in numbers and religious ideologues the later being fine with me.

      That however is another topic.

      1. Don’t ever get sick or old, my friend. Don’t ever break anything awkward. Heck, don’t sleep too long. You can’t care for yourself if you’re asleep.

        Humans are successful (from an animal species point of view) because they are better at caring for their young, so that their young have more time to mature and learn things; and they’re better at caring for the old and sick, so the sick and old have time to contribute and teach. (As even the Vikings agreed, in Odin’s wise sayings.)

        If you decide that babies and toddlers and those who need care aren’t human, you are giving up all the human advantages.

        1. Surive on ones own with normal care including medicine as stated logically includes sleep , illness , and old age.

          It doesn’t include gross mutation or being braindead or even really serious untreatable dementia conditions I suspect my viking forbears would have ended with a knife thrust since one of the they greatly feared was a straw death, dying in a state where one can’t even contribute ones wisdom.

          1. Well, that’s where utilitarianism ends, and the bones of your culture and belief get tested. If your culture has determined that you’ll get tossed on the ice floe the moment you become a drag on your family, either you live with Inuit on the verge of winter starvation and have to put a brave face on it, or you live in the richest society in the world with people who’ll feel sad if they have to visit you (and God forbid anyone feel sad).

            Personally, I feel safer living in a society where they keep me around whether I’m useful or not. There are already plenty of people in the world who don’t think an single female sf fan deserves life. I’d rather live in a society where I don’t have to justify two years translating Latin books full of badthink or religious-talk-useless-to-atheists, even to a publisher, and where when I break my arm, I get help to keep myself alive and working. (I freely admit that I relied a lot on my parents’ help, particularly my mother’s, when that happened, because I couldn’t even dress myself for a long time with an arm broken in two places. And I’m pretty resourceful and flexible, but there’s only so much you can do with a deadweight arm, even if you’re not shy about teeth as tools.)

            The problem is that my siblings don’t have any kids and only one has a spouse, and the future is going to be full of people without relatives to rely on. We are going to have to be neighborly to each other as a society of aging singletons, or we are going to have a lot of us die alone, starving and helpless.

            1. Exactly. Now when someone is irreversibly ill and unconscious, I think the sooner they go the better. So I wouldn’t prolong death-in-life with pointless interventions, and I hope no one would do so for me. But the hearts of real human beings are such that we have to be awfully careful about that way of thinking, because (as you say) it often has more to do with protecting us from feeling sad than anything else. Or protecting us from the burden of visiting, or paying for care, or confronting our own potential fate when we contemplate the hospital bed of a loved one. Or viewing a dying patient as valuable spare parts. If we were perfect, we could experience all those things and still act right. In practice, we know there is a slippery slope and we can use a lot of help not sliding down it.

              1. I have told my hubby to revive me period. If he can’t revive me, then he has the decision whether I should die or not. I have been very very close and do not want to go yet. “Who wants to live forever.”

                It is why I am so terrified of Obamacare– I believe that when it is finally in place people like me with chronic illness (you can’t use our organs or blood because of the meds we use to keep the disease under control) will be left to die. Without meds, it could be very easy to kill us. I won’t be surprised if there are dying rooms in hospitals– eventually–

                So speak for yourself– I will die, but I am not willing to let it happen. If I was, I would have died ten years ago.

                1. Dan knows never to count me out. I’ve been told “she’ll never recover” at least three times. He knows better. He also knows I don’t think he’ll be very happy alone, and I love him too much to stand his being unhappy. If at all possible, I’ll come back.

                  1. Same here (with the hubby). My hubby lost a wife in Germany (died on the autobahn). I could not do that to him EVER. So I will be coming back. He couldn’t survive another loss like that and depression runs in his family in later years. He needs me to lighten his life. I have lived ten years with a disease that takes most people by the fifth year. Thankfully there are new meds that work to keep this disease under control–

                2. Believe me, my standards in this regard are incredibly strict. I’m talking about people in hospice care in the end stages of life from heart failure or cancer. They’re not going to get better, and if they drift into terminal unconsciousness, I’m not going to advocate additional surgery, dialysis, feeding tubes, traumatic resuscitation, or any of the other end-of-life torture that the medical technology of today can dream up. I won’t withhold morphine because it might depress their breathing and hasten death. Nevertheless, I’ll always be guided by the expressed wishes of the patient. I’m lucky that the many loved ones I’ve already lost this way saw things this same way. I’m just saying that I didn’t feel the least urge to override their wishes and go all heroic on them in their last days when they no longer could speak for themselves.

                  In a younger person who might conceivably recover, you bet I’d pull out all the stops trying to get them through, even if everyone was telling me it was in all likelihood hopeless. I too have seen people recover from “hopeless” medical emergencies.

                  There is a time to go. We can probably both agree wholeheartedly that a bureaucrat shouldn’t be making that call.

                  1. You are right– a bureaucrat should not make that call. It should be the person and loved ones. It makes me upset to realize that end-of-care counseling (insidious words of don’t you think you are a burden on your family?) will soon be the norm. Even though I am a fighter, at a certain point in my illness those words could have influenced me to quit fighting. TG for family and the hubby. It didn’t help that I was on high dosages of prednisone (and hallucinating).

                    1. Clearly someone like yourself needed to have passionate advocates, who rightly did not give up on you even if you were temporarily too sick to fight wholeheartedly. Life is a treasure, and an illness should be surmounted if at all possible.

                    2. I’m against euthanasia and abortion for the same reason– make them legal, they will be forced on people.

                      Make them illegal, and just like murder– it will still happen. The dehumanization isn’t premade, though, and it’s no longer an easy thing to do to that saves you from having to deal with Those Other People.

                      A dear family friend was murdered by her son, after my parents had watched her for months before she decided to visit him until she “passed.” He decided she was too much trouble, as best we can tell. All but bragged about it.
                      Not much we could or can do, though, other than mourn her trusting the scumbag that took after his father. (Her ex husband; her second husband was dang near a cowboy saint.) Women kill their children, also. I won’t dig up examples of that. Abusive spouses fail to wake up one morning. Nasty neighbors have tragic fires. Yet, somehow, only two of those three are fought for as legal rights… and both targets are vulnerable, without as much ability to defend themselves.

                    3. I said around the time of Teri Shiavo, “The line between ‘right to die’ and ‘duty to die’ is a very thin one.”

                      On Tue, Apr 16, 2013 at 5:07 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                      > ** > Foxfier commented: “I’m against euthanasia and abortion for the same > reason– make them legal, they will be forced on people. Make them illegal, > and just like murder– it will still happen. The dehumanization isn’t > premade, though, and it’s no longer an easy thing to do t” >

                    4. Yep. When I had pneumonia — 33, two toddlers — I was told over and over again “why are you prolonging this? You’re going to end up dying anyway, and bankrupting your family.” Also “You’ll never be able to live without oxygen.”

                    5. I would support the right of abused spouses to kill their abuser, as long as abuse is defined as physical abuse. Not that there aren’t other types of abuse, but the other types are to easily faked.

                    6. If a really abused spouse gets caught killing their abuser, they can often get off with only a symbolic punishment, if that. (If the abuser was going after their kids… I’ve heard of “punishments” that were one step from a handshake and can I buy you a beer.)
                      Joy of the jury system.

                    7. I don’t want to get into blaming the victim here, because abuse is never justified, but some people do seek out and provoke abusive partners. The world is fallen and it can’t get up.

                      Some things require deciding on a case-by-case basis and we should probably leave it at that.

                    8. Oh, yes, I read a woman recounting how she thought that the only one to win an argument was to get her husband to hit her — that way she could get it as a demand for forgiveness.

                      Others love the adrenaline.

                      Still others — and in fact, this is the commonest sort of abusive marriage — get into fights. If a woman races up the stairs with a baseball bat to attack her husband, and he pushes her down the stairs, does she acquire the right to kill him?

                    9. It wasn’t me — that said a woman should be able to kill in an abusive marriage– reason being I saw one (my sister) and no matter what we did, she kept going back. She said that with her husband she felt alive. I thought she was sick– but she was a full grown woman. Now she is living separate from him (but she is a year younger than I am).

                      Also–I know it means that sometimes your close family are really people you pick as friends and not always your own family.

                    1. You’d be amazed how the most heartless bureaucracy can be triggered into that kind of craziness if the paperwork isn’t in order and anyone’s worried about getting into trouble. A 90-year-old neighbor recently was pounded to pieces by well-meaning first-responders because the stunned family couldn’t locate the DNR. Fortunately, I suspect he was hours past caring by the time the family made the mistake of hitting 9-1-1. The poor guy went in his sleep, the best thing that could have happened to him. There are fates worse than death, and he was living one.

                      Another neighbor died quietly at home last year. Well-loved by his family, active and very honored in the community, he nevertheless didn’t want to pursue any more heroic medical options, and he made his decision stick, much as we all hated to lose him. So his last days were not a Kafkaesque horror.

                      Nevertheless, you won’t find anyone who despises Obamacare or the Death Panels any more than I do. It’s a personal matter, not one for the doctor, not one for the hospital, not one for the insurance company, and not one for Congress or any of their filthy minions.

            2. It’s kind of early to tell, but I think my girls will be willing to help. There’s a decent number of folks who realize that their kids are going to have a heavy burden to bear, and are trying to make sure there are lots of shoulders for the load. I hope we’re enough.

              1. I only have two kids, but they were blessed with extra shouldarity (totally a word.) You look at those boys and you say “SHOULDERS” — and I say, in remembering OUCH.

          2. The question here is not what you would choose for yourself, but what society will impose upon the people.

    5. UM? My oldest step-sister is rabidly pro-choice. (It is one of those subject we have chosen not to discuss.) She obtained her medical degree from Harvard and is an ob-gyn surgeon. She had both of her children in her forties, neither have Downs Syndrome. Yes, older mothers do have a greater chance of producing a child with Downs Syndrome, but that chance is not a certainty, as she quite well knew.

  4. “What if it’s a rapist’s child?”
    What if it is the person who cures cancer? Autism? Or otherwise saves humanity? How many Einsteins have been aborted?
    the ‘pro choice’ folks donot like this line of questioning. especially if you start using their heroes’ names for examples.

    1. Did it never occur to you that this is a warped argument? How many of the (mainly) liberal pro-choice advocates out there would execute the rapist for his crime? If you’re not going to, then why would you execute his child?

      1. this too was part of my take on this a few days ago. They will not execute the guilty but will kill the innocent.

      2. What if the mother is the rapist? Has a woman who poked a pin through a condom or misrepresented her fertility to induce a man to fertilize her committed DNA theft? Should she be able to keep the product of her crime and use the State to tax her unwary victim for her support?

        1. There was a court case somewhat similar to this a few years ago. A man was claiming that he only had unprotected sex with the mother of his child because she told him she couldn’t get pregnant. He further stated that she intentionally got pregnant in order to rope him into a marriage he didn’t want. I’m not sure of the truth of either statement, but I’ve been in enough weird relationships that it feels true to me. He stated that he shouldn’t owe any child support. I’m not sure how it came out though.

          1. Without knowing the specifics of the case and merely extrapolating from general trends in law and society, I would predict the outcome of the case: He got screwed.

          2. Having sex with a person you don’t trust is an amazingly bad idea. I’m not sure how to effectively convey that to my kids when they get to the age where that is an issue, but that’s the truth.

            1. On my end, that simply grew naturally from my counter-predation strategies, originally directed at pedophiles.

              Hmm, remember what Tom said? About it tending to bring out a lot of evil, crazy, and stupidity in people? A close examination of writings about society will tend to confirm this. (Again, something I figured out in elementary, well before I had any libido.) This means that a) this is an area where one’s own judgement will be at its most impaired and b) where it is more likely that the other party will rick untrustworthy actions. Would one give money to this person, no questions asked? Would one trust them with a loved pet? Would one turn one’s back to them? Would one feel comfortable around them if they are waving a sharp knife? Would one be correct to do so?

              1. Such good questions. It’s amazing how many of us got used to the idea that casual sex was a good idea, when we should have been asking ourselves, about a potential partner: “Would one give money to this person, no questions asked? Would one trust them with a loved pet? Would one turn one’s back to them? Would one feel comfortable around them if they are waving a sharp knife? Would one be correct to do so?”

                Somehow the question about entrusting him/her with a beloved pet makes the dilemma all that much easier to understand. Many young people who can’t quite imagine the reality of a baby are very attuned to the agony of seeing a pet mistreated by people who say “Oh, it’s only an animal. Drop it off at the pound.”

                1. WHAT!?? Impairing your judgement with alcohol or other toxic substances and schtupping some similarly temporarily brain-damaged person solely on the basis of proximity, shared fondness for a musical genre and an apparently agreeable short-term hormone match might have negative consequences?

                  What kind of crazy mixed-up repressed world do you inhabit?

                  1. I’m teetotal. I grew up certain that from family history, and other issues, that once I started drinking I would not stop, and would eventually end up dead in a ditch. I consider it suicide. Frankly, it has a decent chance of being the death I fear above all others.

                  2. You are forgetting the persons (generally female, but there are males) who are desperate to feel that they loved by someone. They are far too trusting and very often taken advantage of in matters of sexual relations.

                    This, as has been observed elsewhere in the line, is a broken world full of broken people who all too frequently end up hurting each other — and this is not always on purpose. Doesn’t change the fact that they leave wreckage behind … and that wreckage is likely to produce variants of the same.

                    1. You are forgetting the persons (generally female, but there are males) who are desperate to feel that they loved by someone.

                      Some are just lonely, too.

                      Friendship has been killed off by sexualizing everything, family is either broken or far away, so a “relationship” is the option left to being alone.

                      A culture where the relationship between Sam and Frodo just “has to be” sexual is a sick culture.

                    2. And some of them were quite aware of what they were doing. Shumalith Firestone, in The Dialectic of Sex:

                      without the incest taboo, adults might return within a few generations to a more natural “polymorphously perverse” sexuality, the concentration on genital sex and orgasmic pleasure giving way to total physical/emotional relationships that included that. Relations with children would include as much genital sex as the child was capable of […] Adult/child and homosexual sex taboos would disappear, as well as nonsexual friendships […] All close relationships would include the physical, our concept of exclusive physical partnerships (monogamy) disappearing from our psychic structure as well as the construct of a Partner Ideal.

            2. “Do not have sex with ANYONE you do not want to spend the rest of your life with” for the boys, and “if he was really committed to spending the rest of his life with you, he would be here asking for your hand in marriage; if he can’t see that far ahead, he isn’t able to claim he really loves you and wants to be with you forever” for the girls.

              Now, if they’ll listen? We’ll see.

              1. Look at the divorce rate. For the boys, do not have sex until you have banked sperm and had a vasectomy. (with testing to make sure it took).

                1. Same applies to women.

                  And if you give me the shit about divorce always favoring the woman, you’ll be flatly ignored. The person who tries to do the right thing is the one that gets screwed, going off of the divorces I’ve seen.

                2. Those ‘divorce rate’ numbers that are often quoted as the ‘divorce rate’ leave out bits of information… they simply compare the number of marriages and the number of divorces. They don’t account for people who are getting married after a divorce, or married after their second divorce, or after their third…

                  1. They also don’t mention that SEVERAL STATES– most notably, California (~10% of the population) — aren’t included. And that we don’t differentiate between foreign weddings and those in the US.

                    When they actually call folks up and ask what anniversary their first marriage reached, assuming enough time has passed for it to reach that goal, it doesn’t drop below 50% for anyone until it’s the 40th anniversary for women, where it’s something like 49%. Divorce and death combined end less than half of a first marriage before 40 years.

              2. For the girls, there is this line: If you really loved me, why would you put so much pressure upon me about something so important?

                1. My girls are going to grow up with their mother ranting every time that “only the good die young” song– and various other “sleep with me just because” songs– so HOPEFULLY they’ll have a clue early on.

                  1. The Daughtorial Unit was fed a steady diet of the Childe Ballads as instruction that these things have been going on a long long time and the results are commonly the same, as this song about a robbery relates:

                    “He’s robbed me of my maidenhead and another I cannot find.”

                    1. You seem to have followed my parents’ methods of child rearing. I was singing “Greenwood Sidie O” by age 12. And “John Riley” and “The House Carpenter,” among others.

        2. I’ve never been clear on how a parent’s obligation to his/her child was dependent on the good faith of the person he/she had sex with.

          Maybe if a man were drugged and had his sperm stolen, and it was used to impregnate 1,000 women he didn’t even know, he could tell himself that the genetic connection between him and those children was irrelevant, and there was no imaginable human connection.

          But if he had sex with the mother, I’m not seeing it. His quarrel is with her, not with the baby. Did someone hold a gun to his head and make him have sex with her? Did he really believe there was such a thing as 100% effective birth control, which would permit a complete division between the act of sex and the possibility of incurring obligations to a helpless son or daughter?

          I can see an argument that he should get custody, because the mother had demonstrated her unfitness as a parent by engaging in such a contemptible fraud.

          1. The mother can legally kill the child before it’s born. Whether a child is born or not is entirely, 100%, the woman’s decision. So why should the sperm donor have any legal obligation to any child at all? We can’t protect our children from their mothers, and we don’t have the option of killing them either (not legally anyway). Men have no reproductive rights in our society, and hence *should* have no involuntary reproductive responsibilities.

            Apparently men can be held accountable for women’s decisions, but not vice versa. Says something interesting about the relative level of maturity attributed to each sex, no?

          2. “I can see an argument that he should get custody, because the mother had demonstrated her unfitness as a parent by engaging in such a contemptible fraud.”

            I’ve thought this would be an excellent solution to the problem. Maybe he didn’t want a baby, but he’s got one and can learn to deal with that… and the mother gets nothing.

          3. It would probably be better if society would take that line that the two parties directly involved in bringing about a life were responsible.

            The Daughter has said that she hates the wide spread acceptance of legalized abortion, in part, because it removes one of the polite reasons you could give a young man for refusing his advances. Now you have to just break down and tell him that you find his attentions odious with his clothes on and have no wish to go further. (And, no I don’t want an introduction to your sister, either.)

            I am not sure to what extent she is exaggerating for the purpose of humor…

            1. The sad thing is that judging from the other side, girls also pressure boys now, and if they refuse the girls assume they’re gay — because there could be NO other reason to refuse proffered free sex.

            2. I love it: “you find his attentions odious with his clothes on and have no wish to go further.” As our Hostess says, it’s sad we’ve come to the point where anyone needs to explain her/himself with an excuse, as if anyone had the automatic right to enjoy another person’s body sexually.

            3. But, according to the law, there are not two parties directly involved in bringing about a life — only bringing about a clump of cells. One, and only one, party is directly involved in bringing about a life from said clump of cells. People who have vapors about the very idea of the man’s not being responsible also have vapors about the very idea of the woman’s becoming responsible the same way. (Refusing to pay child support is not the same, is not even comparable, to having the child torn into bleeding.)

              1. “If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble,… “the law is a ass—a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience.”

      3. Of course it’s occurred to me. I’m a horrible person. I view the death penalty as murder by the state — and often justifiable (there is no jail secure enough, etc) to prevent greater evil. I accept that blood guilt.
        What I don’t get are the people who would protect the guilty and condemn the innocent.

          1. I don’t, but I sometimes wonder if life imprisonment (as purported to be preferable to the death penalty) doesn’t constitute cruel and unusual (as in torturous — drawing it out from spurious feeelings of so-called compassion).

            And I admit that would probably change rapidly if I came under a death sentence, I suppose.

            M

            1. Certain of the tribes in Indian Territory felt it to be so. The (I forget the name) constabularies set up by some of the tribes would carry out executions, or beat offenders, but would not imprison them.

              If one wants to go from that to, ‘by having different cultural preferences, people are automatically racist’, one can, but it probably lowers the tone of the discussion.

              1. Were any of the Amerindian tribes much above subsistence level? It seems unlikely. In such an economy it is a dangerous burden to imprison somebody; it means at least two (a prisoner must be guarded, is it not so?) engaged in unproductive activities.

                Which also suggests a basis for slavery: you killed this family’s worker, therefore you must replace his economic contribution. You forfeit donating your labor to your family in order to replace that labor of which you deprived the victim’s family.

                1. I’m deeply uncertain of the level of the tribal economies at the time. On the one hand, BIA. On the other hand, BIA. I forget the statistics for Isaac Parker’s court. However, surely he sent some to prison. I would suggest that if a Tribe had really wanted to, they could have gotten space in a Federal prison, if nothing else.

                  1. A lot of tribes felt that imprisonment would drive you mad or make you lay down and die, for the very good reason that a lot of Indians did just that. And that’s the case with a lot of nomadic or outdoor-oriented groups around the world, so they were probably right. People who spend more time indoors can put up with imprisonment better.

            2. Some Italian prisoners petitioned the government to reinstitute the death penalty and commute their life-in-prison to death.

                  1. You said, “The convict, in this case, can make his sentence as short as he wants.”

                    As short as he wants, does not mean, within a decade or two of what he desires.

            3. Looking at how those places that get rid of the death penalty tend to follow through by getting rid of life sentences, and then with long term imprisonment….

              Of course, I think that life sentences to substitute for execution are bad because they put everyone else in that jail at risk. Just a year or two back we had a serial rapist/torturer/murderer kill a guard that fit his profile.

              After she’d complained about him stalking her.

              She wasn’t even armed.

            4. There was a person who had, both as profession and as avocation, pursued taking other people’s lives. He had been convicted of murder in the city of Philadelphia. In prison, because of his anti-social behavior, he spent most of his time living in isolation. When the Supreme Court banned the death penalty (now lifted) his sentence was commuted from the death to life in prison. He went to court to argue that this was cruel and unusual punishment, particularly as he had been sentenced to death. He did not win his case.

          2. possibly. BUT it is necessary. So, meh. Again, I’m not arguing semantics. People tell me the death penalty is murder by the state. It might be. Doesn’t make it unjustified. (Of course, it might be. Depends on the state and the crime. I oppose it for political prisoners, for ex.)

          3. I think that jail is kidnapping by the state. And fines are theft by the state. That’s why we don’t allow such things without due process and a conviction, right? That whole judicial system is there to deal with people who have surrendered their rights by becoming criminals… and since it’s serious stuff, we assume innocence and everything else.

            1. We don’t allow executions without due process and a conviction. If those justify committing what would otherwise be a crime, they do thus justify it. Or if they don’t, they don’t. But those who would argue that “this would be a crime if a private citizen did it” against a punishment had best be consistent.

        1. Going back to Heinlein (TMIAHM) “What action is acceptable for the state but not the individual. Or, if it’s okay for the state in its dealings to put someone to death for their crimes, why isn’t it okay for me to put someone to death for their crimes deserving of death?
          I’m a horrible person, but I see that the state’s right to a death penalty is merely mine delegated to them.

          1. The purpose of the state is to prevent the cycle of revenge by taking the question of retribution out of the hands of those aggrieved.

            the reason it isn’t acceptable for him is that as an interested party, he can not ask us to accept that he is unbiased.

          2. Exactly. I accept restrictions on my own right to kill a criminal, but not because it’s “right” when the state does it while it’s murder if I do. I accept them because I agree with my society’s judgment that there is no other good way to curb vengeful instincts, snap judgments, and unfair trials that lead too quickly to irreversible consequences if you let every citizen serve as his own militia, kangaroo court, and lynch mob. Those restrictions can never absolve me of my responsibility for what I consent to letting the state do in my name, all according to a legal arrest, proper trial, and sanitized (and probably hidden) execution. And under the right circumstances, I would still be morally obligated to kill a criminal with my own hand, another responsibility I can’t escape by delegating it to the state.

          3. Of course, self-defense is a legal and acceptable way where individuals deliver the death penalty. So it is okay for me to put someone to death for their crimes deserving of death… and if you think about it, an individual has less of a burden of proof than the state has. I can kill someone who I believe is going to kill me or rape me, even if they haven’t done it yet. In fact, *only* if they haven’t done it yet. And then the state is limited to punishing only those who have already committed a crime.

          4. The State’s place in it is after the crime has occurred and it is no longer in the immediate. When a crime happens away from the eyes of the victim (or the would-be protector of the victim), then it is far too common to take action based on short-sighted thinking and/or biases against someone who may not have been involved. Even if the person “saw” the crime and was not immediately at the scene, their memory can alter itself, or they could misidentify the criminal.

            The State is supposed to be unbiased in this type of matter, and, while I recognize that there are all too many cases of this not being true, they still generally do a better job than someone blinded by rage.

      4. The thing that annoyed me most about l’affaire Moudock was that there is a perfectly sensible, sound-bite friendly, answer that would probably win supporters and certainly guarantee the media stops asking about the rape question; “Why is rape the only crime we punish the child for the sins of the father?”

        1. It do seem odd that the people who want to punish the child for the sins of the father express the antithetical proposition when the father’s crime was entering the United States illegally. Then they want to grant that child full legal rights.

        2. Unfortunately, Richard Mourdock has a bright mind but belongs to a church without Jesuits, or their equivalents. He was looking to actually further the conversation at that point, not to win votes, and it doomed his campaign.

    2. They dislike it mainly because its a stupid emotive argument.

      I could easily say what if the person was the next Stalin or a serial killer or worse.

      In fact given the that by defintion an aborted child is unwated, they have a better chance of coming out bad than good, on both nature and nurture sides,

      Also I usually ask pro life people “If abortion is stopped and all those babies are born who is going to care for the 1.2 million infants, mainly Black and Hispanic aborted each year?”

      Then if they respond “people will” I usually check to see how many kids they taken in especially ones of a non White race (since thats like 80% of them) Its usually zero.

      To make the change work ignoring the health issues and assuming some parents who abort would have a change of heart you’d need as many as 1 million extra foster homes or orphanges.

      say its an an annual cost of around 10 billion per year for 18 years each kid . After ten years the expense will have reached 180 billion . Throw that in top of the 500,000 already without foster homes and the 30 million or so kids poor enough for food assistence, thats a big deal .

      Eseentially a end to abortion would just increase poverty and as our country is tax phobic, well they money just isn’t there.

      1. Most of those children will not exist.

        This is because contrary to your belief, children are not delivered by the stork. They are conceived by their parents.

        Faced with no way to eradicate their mistakes, people have a startling ability to avoid the problem in the first place.

        There are enough people waiting for children to take in the remainder. Presuming you come down like a ton of bricks on the government officials who would rather than black children die (after birth!) than go to a white home.

        1. Given White birth rates (about that of Europe) and the economy (getting to Euro Schlerotic levels) there might not be enough altrusitic Whites or ones with money enough. Given that there already are half a million without homes and if the state didn’t pay for them (in some cases) and give people back to bad parents, probably would be a lot more.

          Granted many of those are real hard cases and of course there is red tape so I can understand that but assume right now 250,000k are decent kids unadopted,

          The last thing we need is another million or so.

          Also assuming all those irresponsible people will automatically only engage in careful behavior is not suggested by well the way people behave, especially people with below average impulse control and low interest in information.

          In addition, even if the numbers were cut in half it still jacks up welfare payments.

          Also this does assume no slippery slope. In general, present company excepted most people who are anti abortion are anti birth control. Giving in on one issue makes it a lot mire likely the pill and the IUD and all that will go away too.

          US politics is always incremental.

          1. When you assume known to be false facts, you undermine your whole case. There are NO decent kids waiting to be adopted. There are many children with either serious physical problems that would tax any potential parent and be beyond the reach of many, serious behavior problems caused by leaving them too long in the care of incompetent parents, or family members who refuse to let the child be adopted.

          2. “Also this does assume no slippery slope. In general, present company excepted most people who are anti abortion are anti birth control”

            Links?

            If you except Catholics, which are in actuality a fairly small minority of anti-abortion people, the vast majority of those who are anti-abortion are not anti-birth control.

            Also this is a strawman argument, just because someone is anti-birth control does not affect their decision to adopt. There are three main types of people that adopt, those who do it because the government pays them an outrageous amount for each adopted child (who should be shot, but their views on birth control don’t affect their decision to adopt for a paycheck), those who do it because they can’t have children of their own, (and obviously if they are trying to have children of their own they are not using birth control anyways), and those who do it for the children. This last group is the smallest (not that there isn’t a lot of correlation between it and the second, but for my purpose this is a group capable of having their own children) and the only one which might be affected by the absence of birth control. That they will be is not a foregone conclusion as evidenced by the family near where I grew up, they had 19 kids, 16 natural and three adopted. Obviously they didn’t use birth control, and were fertile, but they still adopted.

            1. I have no idea whether Representative Michele Bachmann and her husband are fertile, but judging by the number of kids they’ve taken in their hearts are fecund indeed.

              For those of a particular political tilt it is merely one more reason to sneer.

        2. Next you’ll suggest that people can be making rational choices and weighing risks even when I think they’re being idiots!!!!

          1. Yup.
            Parental consent laws for abortions, for instance, decrease teen childbirth. If adolescents can take things into consideration, so can older people.

            (well, yes, there are unfortunates who can’t control themselves, despite the danger they would put their children in. Fortunately, we have nice secure institutions for them.)

            1. Actually we don’t. The politicizing of mental illness (by thinking we were like Russia and put political dissidents in jail, which was a big thing in colleges in the 70s) means there’s only a half dozen of those. The rest of those unfortunates roam the streets weedling on themselves and making our downtowns execrable.

      2. So, then you argue that murder is economically justifiable at the beginning of life? If this is acceptable at the begging of life, then why not at any other period? Do you suggest that a person’s right to life should be tied to a cost benefit analysis of their value to the rest of society?

        Those children who presently cannot find foster homes were wanted enough that their mother did choose to give birth to them. But wanting a child and treating a child well does not necessarily coincide. Many children are quite damaged by the time the courts are willing to actually remove a child from of the custody of a biological parent, and this makes them very difficult to place. (I tutored at-risk children and have some knowledge of the situation in my state. Your’s might be different.)

        1. “Those children who presently cannot find foster homes were wanted enough that their mother did choose to give birth to them. But wanting a child and treating a child well does not necessarily coincide.”

          I believe that many women want a doll to play with. Something that can be discarded when it becomes difficult. The folks at DHS believed that was the case with our children. Of our three, one was normal, one was fetal alcohol affected, and one was a cocaine baby. In the womb they’re not the doll yet, and the well being of the doll to be is not an issue.

          1. If so, the problem is not that they want a doll, but that they are not taught the difference between a doll and a child.

            This may be an inevitable consequence of smaller families and of young ladies not earning their pin money by babysitting. Thus a “child” is an abstract concept which they have not fully contemplated.

            1. “If so, the problem is not that they want a doll, but that they are not taught the difference between a doll and a child.”

              In the case of my children, it was much more likely the mom had seldom if ever known real affection or had toys, and wanted something to love her. Both of her parents were alcoholics and irresponsible. We met the kids grandmother, she’s sober now. The first time we saw her, she was wearing short shorts, an unbuttoned man’s shirt tied just below her boobs, and cowboy hat and boots. The meeting was one of the conditions we’d agreed to before the kids came.

          2. I know that there are many problems and that the system frequently fails the children it is supposed to be protecting. Among the children I tutored were ones who had suffered because their mothers had consumed various unhealthy substances.

            To give two examples: One, affected by fetal alcohol syndrome, was treated as a joke and source of entertainment by his mother. Another would flinch if you were not extremely careful how you moved around him, I suspected both fetal drug exposure and physical abuse in the home. These things were properly reported by several of us at the school, as required by law. When I left to be able to home educate The Daughter two years later nothing had changed for either.

            1. There are times when you suspect that social services exist in order to keep social workers employed, and they are careful not to decrease the number of cases they have to deal with.

              1. I think it is simply that the institutional structures do not reward decreasing case loads. There is an adage regarding redoubling efforts after having lost sight of goals.

      3. Simon– For three years before my nephew was born, my brother and sis-in-law tried to adopt a child. They hit wall after wall and at the time they were successful professional people. My brother was a Vice President of a bank. They never did receive a baby or child through the adoption system.

        I have heard story after story after story of the same. If there were less aborted babies, there would be more adoptive parents. You can’t tell me any differently– because I have seen what has happened before and after abortion became a regular occurrence. Okay so now we live in an entitled, I want it now, type culture– so what do you think lead to this ultimate dead-end in this culture? Read the other comments and you can come to an informed and knowledgeable answer.

      4. I find your comment shows an ignorance of what is actually going on in this country regarding adoptions. There are immense numbers of people willing to adopt in this country – to the extent that large numbers go to foreign countries, and spending tens of thousands of dollars or more to adopt. And about 80% of those adopted via foreign sources are “non White race” to use your term. Including the children of two different friends of mine.

        1. There are regularly ads in the paper looking for girls who are “in trouble” to do private adoptions, too; even here in Seattle there are billboards for it.

          1. I gather the Russians are under the impression that many of their children adopted by Americans are “wanted” for all the wrong reasons. While I never take Russian claims on face value, in this instance they do have more than a few cases supporting their ideas.

            1. The Russians have been spreading propaganda about Americans to cover up tales of Russian adoption agency fraud.

        2. And the only reason we haven’t added to the brood is that we can’t afford it, otherwise we most assuredly would have at least two more.

          … If Indie pays… Buy my indie books, help me get a couple more kids! (grin.)

          1. What does push a lot of Americans to adopt overseas – sadly – is that an overseas adoption is more certain than one within the US. US law has made the certainty that a birth-parent can’t/won’t void the adoption some years later weak enough that some adoptive parents go overseas specifically to regain certainty. Its a problem that our legal system – and not for the first time – ignores the consequences of its precedents to the harm of children overall.

            1. Yep. I described the case shortly after Robert’s birth of the little girl of two and a half yanked out of the only home she’d ever known because gangbanger baby-daddy had found Jaysus (in jail) and wanted to impress new wife, right?
              EVEN if his conversion were true (why was he disrupting his daughter’s life, then? I mean, he could have asked visitation rights, but…) it was NOT the best for the little girl.

          2. You know, I envisioned the line up family photo of you, Dan, Robert, Marshall and a little Chinese girl to be named later ….

            ROFL

            1. I’d love that. Some years ago — long story — we were trying to arrange things to adopt two little boys (the boys’ ages then — I THINK 9 and 6) from Kenya. I still wish it had come through…

              1. The iimage in my mind came from two friends of ours, my wife’s only successful match making BTW, a jewish woman from NYC and her second gen irish husband (complete with stereotypical mothers in law as you can imagine ) who went to China and adopted a little chinese girl in the mid nineties. I got photos recently of father and teen aged daughter in softball team uniform recently. What an image.

  5. O believe I have seen that blog post you mention — the one about the ovaries of aborted fetuses being harvested for their eggs — but the one I read pointed out that the purpose actual (as opposed to the purpose public) was to provide cells enabling human cloning.

    Are clones going to be human? How much “human” DNA must they retain to be human? If we give them “cat”-like irises are they still human?

    Do we get to measure humanity by the presence of a Y-chrome? How about we define it on the basis of epidermis melanin content? Darker skin = more human?

    From earliest recorded history humans have believed in gods; do we write you out of the human race for not sharing a belief in one or more deities? Do we cap the number of deities you are allowed to believe in?

    Can we read out of the human race those who think we have the right to read others out of the human race?

    Personally, I am in favor of a broad acceptance of who gets to be human, but fans of Dr. Who #7, 8 and 11 are right out, and you can take the ST:Voyager fans with you. And you lot who want to put The Doctor in a brown coat are teetering on the edge, so watch yourselves!

    1. And then you get the jerks who natter about “reproductive cloning” and insist that if you do it to get experimental subject, that’s different, that’s just fine. . . only letting the clones live is a problem.

    2. How about the lunitics that want to genetically mutilate humans, have them carried to term and call the results “Neanderthals”?

      Are they going to be humans?

      1. No, having decided to play god and create radically different forms of human life they have absented themselves from the human race.

        Oh, wait – were you asking about the neo-neanderthals? Probably, depends on whether they demonstrate a capacity for moral understanding.

    3. I put a link down at the bottom to an essay I wrote about human cloning, reproductive vs. therapeutic cloning, and human clones as illegal beings.

  6. Clearly you’ve come to terms with it as much as is humanly possible, and I admire you for it, but I just wanted to say that I’m very, very sorry you ever had to hear such words from your mother.

    I also wanted to say that I can’t remember ever reading a piece on abortion with which I agreed so thoroughly, word for word, from the conclusions to the steps that led there. Treating the victim as non-human: it’s one of our more dangerous errors, and it seeps into everything. There’s a reason the Golden Rule is at the heart of the best ethics of so many cultures.

  7. This is something, like other civil rights, that will change with technology and society. But we need some bottom line before we go much further down the road of genetic engineering. So, China has cows that give human milk? Wonderful! No allergies! Umm, did they do any sort of intelligence testing on the cows?

    But when we’re talking about indisputably human fetuses, babies . . . teenagers . . . Well I’m mostly prochoice, because this is another thing that the government has an interest in regulating, but should never have _control_ of. Because the Republican who will try to stop all abortions, will eventually be replaced by a Democrat who will decide which pregnancies are allowed to proceed. “This is costing too much and is risking the life and well being of the mother, terminate it immediately” “This fetus will be a burden on society all of its life, terminate it.”

    I think a lot of people don’t realize that when you take away a woman’s “right to choose” to terminate a pregnancy, you are also taking away her “right to choose” to continue it.

    1. No, Pam, sorry. Not legislated, no, but they should be aware they’re killing a human. This should be made very clear. It’s not a choice. You can choose to murder, but are your reasons good enough.

      No, I don’t want the government involved. And BTW I THINK under Obamacare if not now soon kids like Robert WILL be terminated. They assured me he’d be mentally handicapped. Hence “will cost too much.”

      1. I’m from California. Every time I visit family, I get a dose of a society where abortion is simply a common place, sensible decision. “Eww, a big ugly mole. That woman should go to the doctor and get it removed, her life would be so much better.” It really is at that level, some places. It’s chilling, to realize that a very large segment of society has completely dehumanized the fetus, and is blind to the psychological consequences to the mother.

    2. I wonder. When the law forbids me to murder my neighbor to take his house, it removes my right to choose to murder him, but does not remove my right to choose not to do so. The law acknowledges that it’s not for me to decide whether he deserves to live. I’m still free, for instance, to come to his defense if someone else is trying to kill him.

      If the law is changed to say that men with red hair must not be murdered for their houses, but everyone else is fair game, then the law will be intruding in an improper way into the decision not to murder.

    3. By that logic, there should be no laws against murder because a politician who tries to stop all murders will be replaced by one who will decide which lives are allowed to proceed. “This is costing too much and is risking the life and well being of the mother/child/sibling/spouse, terminate it immediately” “This child/adult/elder will be a burden on society all the rest of its life, terminate it.”

      1. Being 66 and disabled, I expect that decision to be made against me, and against my spouse. I totally reject it. I may not be able to “work”, but I AM a productive member of society, and deserve to live just as much as a 20-something that not only has never done anything that has proven beneficial to society, may never do so. The same argument can be made against abortion — would the person that was aborted have grown up to find the cure for cancer, or discover how to journey to the stars in a person’s lifetime? Who is to sit in judgment? Who has the wisdom to know which person should live, and which should die?

      2. Well, that argument only works if you define humans as post birth homosapiens. The murders are already happening. It’s just the dividing line, and who decides, that is in contention.

        Or we could trivialize it. Who ought to decide what size of drink can be bought? The impersonal government, or the individual with the thirst? Many people choose “wrongly.” AKA, the fat person buying the Big Gulp. Should the government have the right to say, “Sorry, max 12 oz, and you fit the obese category, so you can only have the diet versions, don’t give me any crap about allergies or bad reactions to artificial sweetners.” And, of course, they ought to be able to force school children to eat and drink a more healthy diet.

        1. Or we could trivialize it. Who ought to decide what size of drink can be bought? The impersonal government, or the individual with the thirst? Many people choose “wrongly.” AKA, the fat person buying the Big Gulp. Should the government have the right to say, “Sorry, max 12 oz, and you fit the obese category, so you can only have the diet versions, don’t give me any crap about allergies or bad reactions to artificial sweetners.” And, of course, they ought to be able to force school children to eat and drink a more healthy diet.

          Totally agree. The person most effected should be able to make the decision.

          Free choice for fetuses!

    4. I don’t think we should legalize all abortions, because it won’t stop them. I do think that there are good medical arguments to eliminate the intact D&E procedure (look it up).

      We have heard it declared that abortion should be safe, legal and rare. The pro-choice advocates have been reluctant to allow any state regulation or oversight, stating that they fear that it will ultimately lead to a denial of their rights to obtain an abortion. If the Gosnell case, and others like it, indicates anything, abortion has not been made safe for the pregnant lady. (It is never safe for the child.)

      In a world that places so much stock on informed consent this stance of denying what it is that it is actually being done, playing games with semantics, seems foolish to me.

          1. I just made my way back here yesterday, after almost two weeks of craziness. Plowing through all the posts and the hundreds of comments from the last fortnight, this theme comes up again and again. The law is nearly irrelevant: political change flows from cultural change. I know now that I need to focus on the projects and ideas I have that can make am impact on the culture in the near future. Nothing else will do. Thanks for the inspiration, folks. You’re the best imaginary friends a guy could ask for. 😀

        1. They do not, however, that the “safe” means “safe for the abortionist.”

          Indeed, there are abortionists who kept their noses clean when operating illegally and killed patients when legal, and it was just an unfortunate sort of thing.

  8. I’m a Usaian (read A Few Good Men if this term confuses you) – I believe in Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. For humans, of course.

    Being a superversive Trekkie, I believe in LL&PoH for all persons; just also believe that all creatures with rational souls are people, and thus all humans are persons.
    The only species we currently have around that are persons are humans, though, so it’s mostly nitpickery.

    1. Yes ma’am. You’re hitting my blind spot. I have no clue WHY considering I’ve read great novels with aliens, but I can’t BELIEVE in aliens. Not at gut level.

      1. It got pounded in to me less on the “aliens” front than the “genetically modified humans who they then claim aren’t people” angle, especially Neanderthals and engineered kids.

        1. Heinlein’s short story Jerry Was A Man seems to be an appropriate response here.
          About a genetically modified/altered chimp slated to be gassed since he was ‘retired’. And a rich old biddy’s crusade to save him. Yay! for Old Biddies!

          1. No offense to Heinlein, but I really dislike most of the “I built the world this way” investigations into “what measure a man?” question. I’m too aware that it depends entirely on what the author wants the answer to be.

            Really wish someone had introduced me to the whole rational soul reasoning thing, instead.

      2. …just realized, part of my objection is because I get so sick and tired of fantasy writers having their go-to ripoff of the Catholic Church hold that Elves have no souls, while the folk-knowledge treats them as people, when the theology would be the other way around.

        1. Poul Anderson has his Fair Folk have no souls in Three Hearts and Three Lions. Then, he has a grip on what a soul is — a nixie casually comments on human sacrifices that it’s not really useful, she’s not a cannibal, but they do wear pretty costumes. She doesn’t care, because she has no soul.

          Souls in a lot of fantasy tend to be treated as so much extra frill, detachable without even changing you, instead of being your animating principles and your rational nature. That is, rational souls get treated like that. Needless to say, with the silliness about souls they go into, they do not go into sensitive or vegetative souls.

          1. I’ve always liked C.S. Lewis’s line that “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”

            1. Yes, but it’s a soul designed to have a body as an important part of life. Which is why Prudentius pictures the soul in heaven becoming still more happy when allowed to return to the body at the Resurrection.

              1. Oh, I completely agree. I just reject the notion that we are all just meat-bags.

          2. It’s all the-elves-are-fantasy-Vulcans type fiction. 😦

            Jim Butcher does a pretty good job of very lightly touching it.

          1. When the OED was soliciting sample quotations on a web page, they observed that they wanted clear and convincing early examples of people using “alien” to mean “extraterrestrial” rather than “strange, exotic.”

            Ain’t semantic drift grand.

  9. I’m not going to claim I know anything about this subject. Hell, I can’t even identify all the questions, let alone the answers. Or a spectrum of possible answers (refusing to accept that there is such a thing as “the” answer or answers).

    But I am damned certain of one thing: we don’t know.

    OK. A human being is a being with human DNA. Not “born of human parents.” Which came first? Chicken or egg? If egg, what was the parent?

    At what point does a mass of human DNA become a human individual? The law says “natural born” and the argument right now is over the definition of “natural.” But what if we’re asking the wrong question?

    What makes an individual? How do you know “you” are “you”? Another way to ask the question is, “When did you get your soul?”

    Don’t believe in a soul because we can’t measure it? We can’t measure strings, either, but…

    Operating on the hypothesis that the most likely instant for a being to acquire a soul is the moment of conception, how does it become different … that what matters to our reunion with God is not how we treat each other’s bodies, but how we treat each other’s souls?

    Does the question even make sense?

    M

    1. Egg. The ancestors of birds were dinosaurs.

      Leaving aside questions of the soul, and going with science and law . . .

      I think we can all agree that fetuses are human. The question is, when do they acquire “human rights” above those of a brain dead accident victim? At what point is are we no longer allowed to “take them off life support.” This is ignoring potential, because every unfertilized egg and sperm has potential.

      From what superficial knowledge of embryology I have, I’d say that third trimester fetuses _definitely_ ought to have civil rights. IIRC, all but seven states have laws seriously restricting third trimester abortions.

      First trimester, not there yet, probably never be restricted.

      Legally. Morally? The sheer number of unwanted pregnancies that occur despite all the contraceptive options available is a disgrace and a horror. We need some social shaming, here. And better instructions on the contraceptives, or better reading comprehension. Maybe more implants, longer lasting shots. Male contraceptives.

      Anyhow, I’d home in on the second trimester as the major battle ground.

      I know people who’ve had bad amnio results. They know that they are terminating a human life, their much wanted baby. It is a horrible decision to have to make. Those parents are not the problem. Medical advances are whittling away the numbers.

      It’s the “Oh, it took me that long to get the money together to pay for an abortion” the “He walked out on me, so . . . ” and especially the “when he found out he threatened to kill me if I didn’t” type of people that are the problems. Again, more effective contraceptives will reduce the numbers. Perhaps with different marketing “Send Aunt Nasty away for a full year with a single shot” “The business woman’s best friend” and so forth.

      Beats me. I just write it up in fiction. Sex = making babies and abortions are corrupting of the soul.

      1. Actually, and I hate to mention this because it sounds like I’m piling on women or perhaps justifying the feminists, but what I’ve learned is that more than half of late abortions (from people I know) are because “he won’t marry me after all” or “he changed his mind” or “new boy friend doesn’t want the baby.”

        One of the things that MUST be fixed is our adoption system. We must stop playing race and class politics with it. And then we need to shame this type of idiocy. It can be far more effective than laws. Look at prohibition vs drinking now. Law vs. shaming.

        1. At this point there’s very, very little race left in the adoption system. There are so few healthy babies that need adopting that none are staying in the system because of race.

          When you go look at sites like adoptuskids.org there are almost NO infants, and those there are have special conditions.

          1. No. I mean the other way around. Some states have SERIOUS issues adopting out a black baby to a white family. They think it will harm the child. I think they’re idiots.

              1. Yea– that business started in the late 70s… at least in Utah. They were even taking away legally adopted Ameridian children from their adopted parents.

            1. Apparently, Ohio does not have such restrictions (or didn’t about 15-20 years ago). I worked with a guy who adopted three black children thinking that his wife was unable to have children, then had two of their own. His family photos are a little startling at first. Especially since he’s pasty-white, himself, so the contrast is even more intense.

              1. Individual good workers (or bad apples) can make a big difference, too.

                We have a judge up here in Seattle that has several times given custody to women who did not want it, against their express desires. I’m not sure if the “step-mom ‘granted’ custody of children of the widower she married” is folklore or not.

                1. I had a Navajo-Hopi foster sister (at the time that mix was not treated well). Her mother left her with her step-father who was a policeman on the reservation. She never met her father. Of course what I saw on the reservation as a child and young woman is coming true in the Greater World.

                  1. I have a friend who raised his teenage step-daughter, after her mother divorced him. He never officially had custody however, she just moved in with him, after him and her mother had split, because her mother could care less as long she continued to get child support from the biological father, and he treated her as his daughter and finished raising her.

                    1. Exactly– I haven’t seen her in years, but she did come around to see my mother a few years ago. She was healthy and was one of the few craftsmen making Hopi dolls.

                    2. There are sires and dams and then there are people who are parents. These are not always the same.

                    3. I probably should’ve been clearer that the stepmother in this story was just divorcing the guy, and had no interest in the kids….

              2. I remember the Thanksgiving dinner at which I suddenly realized that two of my cousins were black. I think I was six or seven.

                Several years later, I figured out they were adopted.

                1. Adoption can make for great stories– my mom’s favorite “little” cousin was her first cousin twice removed– uncle’s daughter’s son. (Liked his twin sister, too, but he’s still a favorite.) They grew up knowing they were adopted, because mom’s aunt and uncle were old enough that it wasn’t probable for them to be delivered otherwise… but he had to be informed, after hitting adulthood, that his youngest “sister” was his mom, who’d divorced when they were babies and was… not a good choice to raise kids. His twin sister figured it out at about age nine, since he looked like a clone of his grandfather/adoptive father. Like mom says, a little slow, but one of the biggest hearts you’ll find. Good thing, too, because when he works with horses he looks like he could pick them up and juggle them.

            2. I know what you mean. And it’s my understanding that there simply aren’t enough healthy *infants* out there that that is an issue. There are no healthy white babies in the public adoption system, and no healthy black ones. They *all* get sucked up as soon as they become available, or are placed through private agencies.

              Now, if you want ot adopt a 5 year old with a history of being sexually abused and learning disabilities, there’s enough of them.

              To put it in more brutal terms, there is NO inventory in the system, but we can find some scratched & dented in the warehouse if you want.

              There are people in the system who do what they can to prevent a white family from adopting a black *infant*, but given the availability numbers, >>shrug<<, and one of the other commenters seems to be right–you gotta keep Amerinds "in the tribe". However this might have something to do with soverign nation status or some ridiculous schtuff.

          2. At this point there’s very, very little race left in the adoption system. There are so few healthy babies that need adopting that none are staying in the system because of race.

            On the part of the adoptive parents, yes.

            There’s a lot of information about the ones doing the placement refusing to adopt “across race,” generally with generic race-is-culture reasoning.

      2. Under Doe vs. Bolton, you can not restrict abortion in the third trimester when health is implicated. And what is health?

        The medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age—relevant to the well-being of the patient.

        You go to the doctor and say that your old boyfriend has come back to town, and you think you can win him back if you don’t have a kid, or any other reason why you decided against letting the baby, and he puts down that you need it for emotional reasons.

      3. I’m inclined to quibble about brain dead accident victims. I have concerns about that in medicine. The simple, pithy and foolish formulation is that doctors should do that sort of thing with a pistol, so that everyone knows exactly what happened.

        In general, I find ‘what could I get away with if I had this power, or was making this determination’ to be a very useful tool. If you don’t want me exercising a power, refusing to let anyone exercise that power may be your best option.

        I have desires whose fulfillment would be greatly aided if we could declare that chronic stoners are so mentally impaired that they no longer have human rights. Or that they are in fact dead, and that the rest is just cleaning up a particularly active body.

          1. What, haven’t you heard of p-zombies? 🙂

            Grins, Ducks, and Runs Away

            Seriously, I’d probably better avoid the pot issues while I still have all my issues about abortion and related things dug out of my baggage. Five days ’til they celebrate Hitler’s birthday.

          1. I would have to recuse myself from any position involving responsibility for pot smokers, where I might be able to distinguish them. (Prisons for example.) My level of bias regarding such is enough that I just cannot be comfortable in my ability to responsibly discharge such.

            I’ve a long standing interest in ethics, and have occupational reason to maintain attention and awareness.

            1. Do you really have a stronger feeling about pot smokers than about drinkers? I prefer the company of pot smokers any day.

              1. Short answer: yes

                Slightly longer: I’m less than comfortable with ethanol. However, that does not begin to compare with my feelings for recreational users of cannaboids. For them, well, so far in life I am calmer and more evenhanded about terrorists and many murderers.

                I may, in cold-blood, intend to help see Al Quadae and related Salafi terrorist entities dead, but I don’t hate them, and my anger tends to be ultimately fleeting.

                As for comfort, I am more comfortable being around, and working with, people who misuse substances whose effects I more fully understand, and whose metabolism is well enough understood that I can establish when they are no longer impaired.

      4. “And better instructions on the contraceptives, or better reading comprehension. Maybe more implants, longer lasting shots. Male contraceptives.”

        Have to argue with that, anybody (in America) who doesn’t understand how contraceptives work in this day and age is mentally incompetent. Yes I’m aware contraceptives occasionally fail, I have a friend who has two kids because of that, and in his case I don’t *think* it is due to his girlfriend *forgetting* to take them.

        The bottom line is that if you are unwilling to take the risk, and accept the responsibility of having a child, there is a simple foolproof solution; KEEP YOUR PANTS ZIPPED!

          1. In a world where we have all encountered things of the level of have you checked to see if the computer is plugged in? level of non-thinking, why do we think that the grade of thought will increase in the light of arousal, possibly accompanied by mind altering substances?

            1. Which was my point, if they aren’t smart enough to use them correctly now, when they are inundated with instructions on proper usage from early gradeschool on, why do we think that more instructions will possibly help?
              As my last paragraph stated, the only foolproof (well, almost, it has only failed once in history) birthcontrol method is abstinence. If you are going to have sex, be prepared to accept the consequences. Using birth control is like using a parachute, it certainly helps your chance of survival and escaping injury when jumping out of a plane, but the more times you jump, the higher the odds you will get injured, even with a parachute.

    2. “Operating on the hypothesis that the most likely instant for a being to acquire a soul is the moment of conception”

      I used to agree completely, but then I realized that eggs split – and I’m not so sure. When does a twin get its soul? Is there a window? Not splitting hairs so much as wondering.

      Ditto on the concept of “conception” occurring when sperm enters egg – vs. ‘fertilized embryo’ implanting – and having ANY chance of survival.

      Small points, and hard to exploit for any purpose other than curiosity, but my mind ponders.

      And so many ‘babies’ – including one of mine, who was desperately wanted – miscarry (11 weeks should be past that point, shouldn’t it?). I get teary thinking of it – and it’s over twenty years later.

      1. Awk — there were some cultures who thought that you had to kill one twin so that the other one could live a normal life. In the back of my mind I think one of the twin was supposed to embody good and the other evil– not sure if I got it right though. 😉

        1. Not “were”, Cyn. “Are”. There are some cultures that think twins are unlucky, or cursed, or whatever, and kill one (or sometimes both) of the twins pretty soon after birth. A couple of my good friends, identical twins themselves, are working as missionaries in a part of the world where many of those cultures can be found, and they informed me of the details.

              1. This is why I suspect the story that my twin was aborted (SOMETHING was aborted, and it wasn’t me. Took mom some time to realize she still was pregnant) is true. I always felt something “off.” Mind you, we’d be fraternal for sure (impossible otherwise) so it’s different.

                1. They were maternal twins. Besides my cousin had to be told early because he would cry for no reason. They finally told him and he could calm down. He used to say that he had his own personal angel.

                    1. LOL. I figured it was one or the other. Funny, though because it’s something my younger kid would say “we’re brothers, on my parents’ side” You know what I mean.

                    2. I don’t see a problem either lol. I still say my parents left my twin in Bella Coola. An Ameridian baby was born the same day and almost the same time in the same place. The baby was abandoned and the staff wanted to give the baby to my parents. My mother refused– (so that is why I have a twin out there that I have never met and who doesn’t look like me.) 🙂

                    3. My twins are fraternal. One night at dinner, when they were about three years old, one of them asked, “Are we identical?”
                      “No,” the other one said, “we’re nocturnal.”
                      “True,” said I, “but….”

                    4. LOL. Mine are nocturnal too. I shall confuse the younger son next time he says something about their being twins by saying “yes, you’re nocturnal twins!”

              2. I had one also, Cyn. My mother also miscarried eight times before my brother was born. Three of those miscarriages were twins. One occurred at five months. That’s one reason she wanted to be a nurse.

        2. Most of Africa. The reason is actually practical. VERY hard for a mother to nurse both babies on hunter-gatherer diet. But we’re humans, we dress it in myth.

      2. Yes, miscarriages can occur at any time. 11 weeks is somewhat past that time when they don’t implant. I get teary eight years later on the only case I could be considered to have caused it. We went to AZ for World Fantasy. The Acacia Gum? trees were blooming. I got SUCH a horrible allergy my eyes swelled shut, and I couldn’t breathe. It continued for a week after I got back. And then I miscarried. First trimester, mind, which means probably more vulnerable. My guess is my body went into near-shock and, well… But I WANTED that kid.
        BUT the point is yeah, in the first six? eight? — mom thinks 10 — weeks you can lie to yourself and go “well…” After that… uh… not so much.

        As for souls, I don’t deal in that. I can’t know. I don’t even know if it’s all at the same time. So, err on side of caution. And here comes the weird bit — Robert, I KNEW I was pregnant, that it was a boy, and I could FEEL him the day he was conceived (not in the physical sense, but like someone was there.) Marshall — nothing. Not even after seeing him, little heart beating, on ultra sounds. I was convinced he’d die at birth, because I couldn’t SENSE him there. And yet, the minute I held him outside the womb, I had that sense. So… Don’t know.

          1. okay. I’m a fantasy writer. I’ve considered this. To add to that, he’s the MOST secretive kid I’ve ever met. Not that he’s doing bad things (most of the time.) He simply fetishizes privacy.

            1. This.

              What is wrong with wanting personal privacy? This is one of the things The Daughter dislikes about our present society. Not only does she not wish to hear everything they choose to do, what business is it of all these people to intrude on/into her mental space? Neither of her parents think she is asking too much in this regard.

              1. well, the big issue with Marshall and privacy is that he also suffers from “Marshall do” meaning he never asks for help — so he often gets into bizarrely convoluted trouble (like dealing with school administrators) and by the time we figure it out it’s out of control. That’s getting less so as he grows up — he’s better at dealing with the world.

                OTOH there’s also the fact I didn’t know he could read till I found books mishelved on my mystery bookcase (he doesn’t know the alphabet order. Between learning to read by himself and dictionary.com alphabetizing is an alien concept.)

        1. As far as I know my mother had one pregnancy after I was born, and that ended in abortion for a health reason (which was pretty much the only legal reason at that time), and at least part of that was some sort of severe allergy reaction if I remember right. I do not remember any details, although I think she told me some of them. Her age figured into it too, she was 38 when I was born so she would have been either nearly or even past 40, and this was early 60’s.

          Was bit of a shock when I learned that, I had always hated being an only child.

          About those twins, I have read some speculations that a good many pregnancies may start as twins or even with more, but in most cases only one survives. And sometimes the weaker twin is absorbed by the stronger of the two. But that would usually then happen in the very early stages. Been a few years since I saw that though, not sure how well established that idea may be now.

          Personally, I do believe in souls, I don’t believe they get attached in the moment of conception but sometime several weeks later, and the actual moment varies for each. So I don’t have that big of a problem with abortions which happen during about the first trimester. But I do have one with the last trimester ones, unless it really is some sort of medical emergency, as when the baby dies in the womb but doesn’t miscarry naturally. The second trimester is the big question for me, I just don’t know. But since I also believe that if a soul needs to be born it will be born, if not to these parents then to some others… well, still, I just don’t know, and breaking a contract, which parents, perhaps even more a woman may have had with the one who wants to be born from her, presumably is not a good thing. But since these are questions of faith, what I believe, I don’t expect anybody else to live by those ideas.

      3. The thing is, we don’t know when the soul embodies (we will have to stipulate that there is such a thing as a soul; there may not be, but that is a different argument) but we can draw the line with bright edge at one point: fertilization.

        Prior to that conjunction of egg and sperm there can be no soul embodied. Somewhere after that point and prior to taking of public office there seems little doubt about the soul being embodied.

          1. But the question is: when does the soul depart? Upon birth as a political office holder or upon conception of the idea to become a politician?

            On a more serious note, we probably need a new blog post to address the issues of soul-departure, especially that “medical ethicists” (a group increasingly reminiscent of “jumbo shrimp” and “social science” oxymoronicism) are talking about harvesting organs when people are only “mostly dead.”

            1. We already do this, actually… they just want to remove the current figleaf of (if you assume good will) trying to be sure that the person is dead, first. Mr. Smith– AKA, one of the handful of bioethicists who doesn’t spend his time explaining why traditional ethics don’t apply in X case, now of Human Exceptionalism at National Review– has a lot of stories on it, including folks who were actually being harvested when they woke up.

              When I found out that organ donors are frequently sedated so that they don’t disturb the doctors/nurses doing the harvesting by crying or moving, the organ donor note came off my license…..

            2. “…especially that ‘medical ethicists’ … are talking about harvesting organs when people are only “mostly dead.”

              This might be the gin talking, but I have a sudden urge to get “I feel happy!” tattooed on my liver.

            3. harvesting organs when people are only “mostly dead.”

              How many other people here immediately thought of The Princess Bride when reading this line?

              1. Wot, ya thinks I turn these phrases by accident?

                Well, much of the time, sure. All the stinkeroos are mine own.

            4. I remember reading a book by a medical ethicist who complained that people were demanding treatment after a botched abortion left the baby alive — he complained that just because it looked, to the untrained eye, like a live-born baby people were thinking it was one.

              1. Funny how such things work. I was musing that just because some medical ethicists look, to the untrained eye, like human beings people were thinking they are.

      4. Oo! I **LIKE** that. See, it’s what I mean about the knowledge problem. Here I was fronting all omniscient and stuff and you knocked my high, hard fastball out of the park first swing of the bat.

        As for your second question first, I am considering the gametes independent of the mother, The creation of the zygote is the considered instant. And… now… what that means for frozen embryos… Do they exist in a horrific state of limbo?

        But the splitting thing. If you take as an operating hypothesis the notion that god was lonely so split himself into myriads so he’d have company, why does the soul have to be unary? Per C.S. Lewis, you ARE a soul, but it may not be ONLY you. Your particular fragment of God may inhabit only one body, or it may be spread across a multitude. And why would it matter? Are they not *all* God?

        And, if this bit of speculation bears fruit, might it be some comfort that the soul whose existence on this plane is cut short in a miscarriage has thus more rapidly returned to God?

        Don’t claim any special knowledge; just riffing on the idea.

        M

      5. And so many ‘babies’ – including one of mine, who was desperately wanted – miscarry (11 weeks should be past that point, shouldn’t it?). I get teary thinking of it – and it’s over twenty years later.

        I’m sorry to hear it.

        That said, it use to be incredibly common to die before age 5. Didn’t mean folks suddenly became more human when it wasn’t common.

        The twin thing I put in the “things to ask God when I get there” file, along with “what happens to the soul of the other kids in a chimera?” (Of course, since we don’t understand how the whole chimera thing works, meh.)

        Funny thing is, I don’t think it matters if someone has a soul at conception, or gets it later; killing them is still wrong, because they would have a soul. Moral difference between slamming a boulder into someone’s head and dropping a boulder on their head.

    3. At what point does a mass of human DNA become a human individual? The law says “natural born” and the argument right now is over the definition of “natural.” But what if we’re asking the wrong question?

      Actually, “human individual” would be a biology question, and the answer is conception. Doesn’t matter that it’s a single cell, that cell’s a unique organism.

      The legal question is when a human individual gains legal rights, and there isn’t a specific answer– as the laws that allow prosecution for killing unborn humans shows.

    4. Which came first? Chicken or egg?

      Because I am an ODD, let me observe: If you accept evolution the egg came first. If you go by certain strict theories of creationism, then it is the chicken. 😉

      1. That’s what I always said. I don’t answer that question because I don’t want to get into a religious arguement. 😉

  10. Treating a victim as a non-human is scarily common throughout history. Yes, Sarah, you are correct in pointing out that an unborn child is considered to be non-human under the law. Read the Roe v. Wade decision. It’s there in black and white.

    Religious war has always had an element of dehumanization. The other side is not just a religious opponent, they’re “infidel dogs.” Oddly enough, that was the term used by many Christians to describe Muslims during the Crusades. It’s now the term used by Muslims to describe “Christians” even if not all of the people fighting on behalf of the West are Christians.

    Of course, there are other conflicts where people are not considered human. From Jewish untermenschen to the use of African slaves in the Americas, it happens again and again.

    What bothers me most though is when there doesn’t seem to be an ideological reason for it. I know that sounds weird, but think about it. Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zhedong believed (supposedly) in the equality of all members of the proletariat at least (not those Capitalist, Imperialist running dogs, but the “poor, opressed people” they supplied jobs to ) slaughtered them anyway.

    1. Honestly, I think it’s the default mode. It’s what’s at the bottom. Once you start sliding you’ll hit bottom. We need a safety net of ideas not to start sliding.

      Grosse Point Blank “Don’t you know there are things humans don’t do? You just don’t DO them.”

    2. And maybe the original sin of collectivism is that it refuses to countenance the fact that the individual is the apotheosis of humanity.

      M

    3. Any war has an element of dehumanization. This is necessary to get non-psychopaths to kill other people at close quarters.

      1. Yes, this is why in practically all wars the enemy is referred to by dehumanizing slang, be it Kraut, Charlie, gook, raghead or whatever. This is not necessarily a bad thing, by the way. While I would argue that there are non-psychopaths who can kill at close quarters while considering there enemies human, the number of such people is limited, and the dehumanizing of the enemy helps preserve the sanity of the rest of the soldiers, while also helping reinforce in their minds that, it is okay to kill X, because they are the enemy and not as human as me and mine, but when I get back to ‘the world’ I’ll be among humans again, and killing them isn’t acceptable.

        Dehumanizing the enemy is a slippery slope, that we must be careful not to slide down to far, but it isn’t worse than thinking the enemy is just like us, because they are human. At the risk of being crass I’ll use an old quote, “use moderation in all things.”

  11. On the subject of abortion and rape, John Scalzi’s essay on the subject left me so incandescently furious that I don’t think I’ll be able to read any of his books ever again. Not as a deliberate “protest” decision, but because just seeing his name on the cover is going to make me want to hurl the book across the room.

    … And that’s pretty much all I have to say, since I find myself in complete agreement with Sarah. Again. Sarah, if you keep on reading my mind when you write these essays, I’m going to start thinking about nothing but They Might be Giants lyrics*, see if I don’t! 😛

    * A well-known technique for annoying mind readers, as you know if you’ve read a certain one of Lackey’s books. (Bonus points to the person who can remind me of the book I’m thinking of, because I’m drawing a blank on the title right now).

    1. Robin, thinking nothing but TMBG lyrics might just be against the Geneva Convention. 🙂

      All I can come up with is Cooper’s “The Dark is Rising,” where Will thinks about breakfast because the Dark Lord can’t see past the surface of his mind.

      1. I’m remembering more details about the book. It was one of the SERRAted Edge series, where the mage-cum-race-driver get captured by the Unseelie, figures out that they’ve stationed a mind reader near his cell to spy on him, and starts thinking about nothing but They Might be Giants lyrics. But I’m still drawing a blank on the name.

        1. I remember that story! “‘Tenser,’ said the tensor . . . Tension, apprehension, and dissension have begun”–the annoying little ditty someone used to block his thoughts. And people would think together in little woven-together patterns at parties, but only “A”-level telepaths were really good at it. Some kind of murder mystery involving a possible poisoning. Wow, that’s probably been forty years.

          1. The sad thing is that, on my third re-read, I came up with a nice earworm television theme song that went with the song. It’s really really cheerful and annoying. 🙂

      2. I believe it was the Lackey book that has a purple dragon with white hair on the cover, the kitsune-boy wearing a letter jacket, the masses-of-dark-hair lady leaning on a red car and the little wizard boy who I can never remember the name of standing in the middle.

        Not Bannon the bard, but the guy who’s friends with the Chinese dragon.

          1. I think so. I haven’t read it since… Jeeze, 2004 or so? I think my sister put it in the “sell” box at the family yard sale after I went to Japan. (Blaming my sister, because my mom is as bad a packrat with books as I am; it might actually be “packed” somewhere.)

              1. Looks almost right, but no idea.

                I vaguely remember my copy had two books in it, though, so it might’ve been one of those “compendium” ones where they smash two covers together.

                1. Tannim is the race car driver wizard boy (I think). It has been quite a while since I read them also, so I don’t recall which book was which, there were four of them, and I have them in two ‘books’ with two novels apiece in them. What I do recall is that the 2-in-1 were not in order, like books 1 and 3 were in one compilation, and 2 and 4 were in the other. (not sure on which were grouped in which compilation, but they weren’t grouped in order like a sane person would do it.)

            1. I know what you’re saying, but at two, babies can be *very* demanding. (Three is worse.)

              On Mon, Apr 15, 2013 at 12:24 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

              > ** > accordingtohoyt commented: “babies will one day understand their rights > and defend them — but at two? Not so much.” >

            2. The original comment was directed more at the class than at the individual. Also, I wrote it before reading the entire argument–based strictly on the opening and the “what is human” question. Are humans, as a class, able to understand rights, demand, and respect them? Yes. (They often _don’t_, but they _can_.) Are cows? No.

              Someday we may meet alien life forms. Will they be “persons”, deserving of rights? If a particular group of said aliens can understand the concept, and demand and respect rights then yes. Otherwise no.

              Or, we as humans may decide to change ourselves in radical ways. In the comic they had “spiders” (people genetically adapted for low gravity with one obvious change being several pairs of arms) “beltapes” (a somewhat different adaptation for low gravity) and others. Will these changed beings still be “people” deserving of rights? Same question and same answer. Likewise the “self aware” AI’s that were also part of the series.

              While it’s not entirely reliable on the individual level (Is that 2 year old able to understand rights and the rest? Doubtful. My daughter is not stupid and we’re just starting to get her to understand that level of abstraction and she just turned nine. And what about the individual who, through accident or other issue, has lost or never developed that level of cognitive function? Still human?) I think it’s a good measure for classes. At present, it’s only really homo sapiens sapiens that meets it. It’s possible that some of the proto-human species may also have met that standard but, barring time travel it would be difficult to tell.

              But for the future? I believe (emotionally held belief, so stipulated) that sooner or later the question will come up and I think this is a good touchstone to use.

              1. For some reason, I got the idea that the beltapes were gen-engineered from apes so they aren’t genetically human. Mind you IMO they’re in the ways that count.

              2. Someday we may meet alien life forms.

                I don’t think it’s so much “may” as “will”. As the old saw says, “Nature abhors a vacuum”, and you can find life from the frozen tundra of the north to the wastes of Antarctica, from high in the air to the deepest ocean vents. I think we’ll find life anywhere there’s the possibility (chemicals, energy) that energy can be transferred, there will be “life”. We’ve found planets around hundreds of stars. There may be planets around ALL stars, or just “most” stars. There may even be the possibility of life that “lives” in deep space. WE DON’T KNOW, but the possibilities are endless.

                I think one of the things that a sentient species would look at in another society is how well they treat those that can’t adequately take care of themselves. That includes children (including the unborn) and the elderly. Right now, I wouldn’t be very proud of how my species does that.

          1. I think the salient point Sarah’s after is that fetus through say two years cannot understand rights or demand them. Most parents would extend that window well into the teenage years.

            1. you mean it stops sometime? (No. I am not joking. Robert could have demanded his rights at ten at such length people died of old age waiting for him to finish. His brother understands them, but can’t express himself in words well enough to defend them — unless you let him write a story about it. Then he’s fine.)

              1. I am not sure … there seem to be an increasingly vocal subset of people (Occupy Wall Street seems the most prominent outbreak) who think they understand their rights and are very defensive of them but …”You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

                1. I’m not so sure that the correct discriptive term is defensive. Possibly it should be offensive?

              2. There will come that blessed time, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, when you get that most precious of phone calls: “Mom, you won’t believe what your evil little grandson/granddaughter just did! The wretch!” It is at that point when you may bask in the sweetness of Karmic revenge.
                Kind and noble man that I am, I try ever so hard to hold it down to a polite snicker, though I do confess to the occasional guffaw.

                1. My FIL got that call the day we brought Robert home from the hospital. I was still very ill and Dan went to change the diaper. We’ll just put in the words “projectile poop” and “pinned to the wall” and not describe the whole sorry and disgusting scene. FIL laughed so hard it sounded like it would never stop. Apparently my beloved and very proper husband had committed the like offense, his first day home from hospital. (I think knowing that mortified Dan more than having to shower and change his shirt.)

                  1. I love the scope of your blog comments. The day we brought Steph home, Char came down with a bad kidney stone and got rushed back to the hospital. After Steph woke up, I went to change her diaper, and also got the “projectile poop” event, all over the wall. And then I had no food in the house because we were going to breast feed. Welcome to parenthood.

                    1. Oh, yes. Actually Robert and I stayed in the hospital two weeks. (I had a BAD uterine infection.) When we came home, Dan was primary parent until December when he finally got a job (He had to quit to stay home with me. I couldn’t even really get up to get water.)

        1. At that, you can defend your rights before and after you fall asleep — but not during. So all of us spend large chunks of our lives in the “will in the future” categories.

    1. That hits the little complication that I can guarantee that you neither understand what rights are nor respect and demand them while you are asleep.

      1. I don’t get the difference, though I suppose someone would try to take advantage.

        M

      2. Sure I can, as long as we’re talking about my Right To The Covers. I am, according to my husband, very good at demanding those rights, and failing to respect any right he has to the covers, when I’m asleep.

          1. It’s not stealing if they’re mine by right. 😛

            My husband grew up with a Labrador retriever puppy. I grew up with a calico cat. He knows all about giving me sad/hopeful looks until I give in. I know all about occupying 2/3 of the bed and 80% of the covers, and then curling up with him to steal all his body heat, too.

        1. My complaint was not so much that The Spouse pulled the covers off of me, but that it was done to toss them off The Spouse’s side of the bed …

    2. I saw something like that in an L. Neil Smith book some time back. Probability Broach?

    3. Sounds like Asimov’s line in Bicentennial Man: “There is no right to deny freedom to any object with a mind advanced enough to grasp the concept and desire the state.”

      And note it’s not a reversible logical statement. It says nothing about denying the right to freedom to objects that cannot understand the concept or desire the state. P=>Q does not mean !P=>!Q.

  12. It is believed wanted babies are happier or better cared for.

    You were on the spot with your comment to the abused abortion supporter. Abused children are more likely to be wanted and planned than non-abused children.

    Indeed, since the central notion of child abuse is that children exist to fulfill adult needs, much pro-abortion propaganda is, if anything, encouraging child abuse.

    1. There is another mode by which this seems true. Compare ‘I don’t recognize that child/woman/man’s right to not be raped/murdered by me because it is inconvenient for how I swing.’

  13. I wrote a paper on partial birth abortion last semester for ethics class. It was agonizing. The research was sickening, and in the end, half the class flat refused to do it, and I was the only one who presented the paper in front of the class. I did so despite the mental turmoil because it was vitally important that those 17 people in my class have a full understanding of what is being done to babies. They aren’t fetal tissue, they are children, and they are torn apart as they are born, to fall within the veil of ‘legality’ that hides heinous crimes even here in the freest nation in the world. I am a mother of four. I have studied biology and science since I was six years old (autodidact, something most of your commenters and I have in common) and I cannot find – because there is none – the line between ‘alive human’ and not-alive human in the fetal development. That being said, I have no problems with contraception. But once you know you are pregnant you have NO RIGHT to murder your child just because you don’t want them.

    1. Here’s the problem. The law lives and breathes by bright line delineations. A and B is legal, but A,B, and C are illegal. Biology HATES delineations. Really the only ones that exist are conception, birth, death, and species. And those can get mighty fuzzy in places e.g. marsupials, hibernating animals, and horses/donkeys. Take adulthood. An 8-year-old is obviously not an adult, while a 30-year-old certainly is (I confine this discussion to humans, thus excluding denizens of Hollywood and D.C.). The exact point of transition varies from person to person and cannot be precisely determined. So we make an arbitrary line. Someone 17 years, 364 days old must get parental consent to join the Marine Corps, but if she waits 24 hours she can choose for herself. Is she any more mature today than she was yesterday? No, but lines must be drawn, and that’s where we’ve chosen to put one.

      Is a blastocyst human? No. Your spleen has more claim to humanity than a couple dozen cells in a fallopian tube. Is an infant days from delivery human? Undoubtedly. Where does one transform into the other? I don’t know, and neither does anyone else. But we need to put down a line.

      1. Is a blastocyst human? No. Your spleen has more claim to humanity than a couple dozen cells in a fallopian tube.

        Biology disagrees. “Human” just means “living organism, of the human species.” You probably mean person, which is a value judgement.

        On the value judgement, your spleen has no chance of developing into a computer programmer if not disrupted; a newly created embryo does.

        Makes it pretty clear which has a better “claim” to being a person in my book.

        1. When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean.

          A blastocyst also has the potential, left to its own devices, to become a miscarriage. There just isn’t the complexity necessary to support personhood. Just like a silicon wafer isn’t a computer.

          1. Nonsense. It has all the complexity necessary as witness that it will, in due course, become one barring accident.

            1. That’s not what complexity means. You and I are more complex than a newborn, which in turn is much more complex than a blastocyst. The process of development is one that converts food energy into complexity.

              1. The complexity is already there, encoded into its DNA. The process of development is merely executing the code, using food energy to do so. But the complexity is already there in the “source code” before the program ever starts executing.

                1. There’s more to complexity than DNA. Corn has a genome approximately the same size as ours, and wheat and lilys have ones significantly larger. None of them even remotely approach the complexity of humans.

                  Anyway, every cell in your body has the same DNA, so larger numbers of cells imply greater complexity.

                  1. Absolutely agreed that the size of DNA bears little relation to the complexity it encodes. Why are you suddenly arguing for my side of the argument? (You stated there’s more to complexity than DNA, but only argued about the size of DNA, which is indeed completely irrelevant to the complexity encoded therein. I could write a huge program in Java, or a much smaller program in Clojure, and I guarantee you that the smaller Clojure code would be more complex than the larger Java code).

                    And the fact that every cell has the same DNA does not mean more cells would equal more complexity; it doesn’t work that way. Make 100 identical copies of the same program and you’d have precisely the same amount of complexity as that encoded in a single program.

                    No, the complexity encoded in DNA and the complexity of an adult human body are different concepts; the one causes the other (with the addition of food energy), but we should be using two different words (if we can find them), because we’re arguing about different concepts.

                    And we’re also losing track of the source of the argument: the question of whether a human blastocyst (a group of as-yet undifferentiated cells, which in totality constitutes a single organism with human DNA) should be treated as human by the law. My contention is that if you don’t treat it as human, then you have failed to draw the bright line (and laws must have bright lines) at the only non-ambiguous place that nature provides. Is it an organism with human DNA? Then it’s human, and therefore a person. (Other categories, like sapient AIs, might someday also be considered to be people — being human is a sufficient but not necessary condition for being a person — but as of right now, humans are the only kind of creature that can meet the criteria for being people, so the point is moot at the present time.)

                    The fact that many blastocysts naturally miscarry does not need to change the legal definition one whit. People die in accidents, or of natural causes, all the time, and it’s usually nobody’s fault (barring negligence). But to take action to kill a person is homicide, and that’s what the law would be concerned with.

                    1. Why does the legal line have to correspond to a biological differentiation? We don’t do that for any other right – 12 year olds cannot buy alcohol, consent to sex, sign contracts, own property, enlist in the military, drive, buy tobacco products or firearms. why should life be different?

                    2. …why should life be different?

                      Because life is a fundamental right which enables all others, the exercise of which cannot be suspended until such time as the possessor can safely exercise it without posing unnecessary danger to self and others.

                      The restrictions you’ve cited all exist for the purpose of protecting the right to life. What right is protected by restriction of that right?

                    3. That would be an argument against killing any biological human, not for it. 12 year olds are restricted from many things to PROTECT them, not to make it legal to treat young, vulnerable humans as objects.

              2. Your error is that you ignore the “process of development” is one that converts food energy into a human being. When we talk of aborting a blastocyst we talk of interrupting the process of becoming a human; once we agree that process can be interrupted, there is no reason to not interrupt the process at ten, twenty or ninety years.

                In fact, since all are born to die, it might even be argued the process is not being interrupted so much as merely hastened, for convenience’ sake.

          2. It represents a process which, unless interrupted, will produce a human. That process may be interrupted by nature but not by the will of man.

            Dionysius’ sword, suspended by a single hair, is merely potential, so you would have no problem taking Damocles’ seat?

            1. ” That process may be interrupted by nature but not by the will of man.”

              Why not? We interrupt natural processes all the time. It’s what makes us human. And I’ll gladly take Damocles’ chair, just give me 15 minutes and a roll of duct tape.

              1. And not interrupting this particular process is what makes ithuman. Biology offers a bright line delineation which you attempt to elide: fertilization. Before that, not a human. After that, unless interrupted it will at some point be undeniably human, not dog, nor fox nor ox.

                Your standard reasonably permits the anthropologist’s argument that it isn’t human until it has absorbed human culture; throw it in with the great apes and it will never become human.

                As for Damocles’ chair: no negotiable conditions, take it as is only. That was the deal offered Damocles, after all.

              2. When we deliberately “interrupt the natural process” of a human life the technical term for that is murder. Defining the victim as a blastocyst no more changes that than defining the victim as a Jew makes the holocaust acceptable, nor defining the negro as an animal excuses slavery.

                Words do not mean exactly what you choose them to mean as you cannot pay them extra.

                1. We still need a bright line, either conception or … Mind you, given the great amount of women-who-can’t-count I advocate the penumbra of the first two periods. Giving the dog a bite, I suppose.

                  1. I am willing to accept a regime permitting murder of the unborn at whatever time the culture agrees to. I see little that law can do to prevent it.

                    I just don’t agree to calling it other than what it is: murder. If you lack the guts to name an act as what it is, maybe you should not commit that act.

              3. Such as by interrupting the flow of blood in the big veins in the neck. Not a justification of doing so when it results in a human death.

          3. A blastocyst also has the potential, left to its own devices, to become a miscarriage

            No. A miscarriage is something that happens to said human. Just as we all, eventually, become a corpse– and, in the long term, dust again.

  14. . My friend Kate is very afraid that if abortion is made illegal there will be a period police making sure that if you missed a period, you don’t abort.

    *dryly* About the 20th time I had to explain to a medical professional that we didn’t know exactly when my first daughter was conceived, but we knew a three-month window, and they acted like I was an idiot I informed them with my brightest there-is-no-brain smile that I was clearly in the 46th month of pregnancy, since that’s how long it had been since I’d had a cycle. (Stress is crazy on some lady’s systems. We knew the three month window because I do have some familiarity with the female system and knew that I could ovulate without bleeding first, so I did a test every month if I was going to drink or use any OTCs that say “do not use if pregnant.” I think my initial reaction to the positive test was actually “dang, I was looking forward to that glass of wine” before it got through that I was pregnant!)

    1. I had, we think, cysts… I hadn’t had a period for 18 months when I got pregnant with my son. Still not entirely certain *when* he was conceived. I cried for a month (not hyperbole, unfortunately) after I found out, too… it was a really rough period in my life. But abortion never crossed my mind. And I love him to bits now, even when he’s yelling that he hates me. 🙂

      1. “Joy” of being in the Navy for most of that time, we know that I didn’t have any cysts– one of the few females I knew of that didn’t get diagnosed and treated for them, actually. It’s just that if I’m stressed, don’t get enough sun and don’t get enough sleep, and am in the BMI standards the Navy uses, I have no cycle.

        Looking back, I’m starting to wonder if my body was on the verge of shutting down as I approached “ideal weight,” since I got pregnant after I’d slowly gained weight back.

        1. Oh yea– the Navy ideal weight was NOT good for most women imho. I was always on the edge and over– and I was strong, muscular, and worked out every day. So you were probably starving Foxfier– I don’t think I had a good more than one good meal a month the last year I was in the Navy.

          1. I’ve argued against the use of the BMI since I enlisted. Out three years and I still argue against it. For a very narrow selection of folks, it’s accurate. For the rest, it’s wildly inaccurate. I showed up to RTC at 5’6″ and weighed in right at 170 lbs. After I’d been lifting weights 5-6 days per week for five years. I could do sets of pull ups with little to no real effort. They gave me crap about being “overweight.” I’d like to say I offered to take my shirts off so they could see how “overweight” I was, but I’d been awake for something approaching 48 hours by that point, and was just a bit punchy. Mrs. Dave swears by the pseudo-memetic picture floating about with the caption, “According to the BMI, I’m too short.” And it’s true.

            1. YEP I was 5’8″ and 154 pounds (I was practicing karate five days a week). They told me I was too fat and didn’t have any fat on me at all– BAM

            2. When I taught English Comp at the airforce, one of my students was a black female officer (can’t remember the rank, but everyone else saluted and shut up when she said “enough now”) who had only a highschool education but had been working for years with space command and was a natural mathematician. She was so good they wanted to pay for her to take aerospace engineering.

              ANYWAY, she was, actually very very sharp. BRILLIANT. She was also of African ancestry and my age. My class was taught in their lunch break. She came in with a yogurt and some grapes, every day. She was on the verge of getting kicked out for being too heavy. She ran on the threadmill three hours a day…

              Sometimes genetics is destiny. (She and I had much fun making jokes about the skinny blondes in the class, who came in with two double burgers and were shocked at her lunch, because, well, they always thought you had to eat a lot more to be fat, right?)

            3. All three of my genetic uncles that went Navy technically failed their swim test– they don’t float, and the deadman’s float was required to pass. Some 25 years later, one of them– in less good shape– had a pickup back into his pickup, while both had their tailgates down. He still has the tailgate, with the imprint from his legs in it. The edge is dented from where it hit the other tailgate. And he still has the original legs attached, which shocked the heck out of the doctor.
              Watching dwarves in the Middle Earth movies is eerily like watching a family reunion.
              The BMI just isn’t made to deal with a bone/muscle structure like that.

              1. I have to admit I also initially failed my float test when I joined the Navy. I was 5’10” and 128 #, with essentially no fat. I finally passed by inflating my lungs and putting my face in the water.

                The really hard part (in water survival) was staying above water long enough to inflate my 13 button navy blue pants to use as a float. Imagine taking your pants off, tying the bottom of the legs, pulling them through the air, then using the inflated pants as a float. Except for captains inspections, going on liberty in foreign ports, and standing quarterdeck watch, I never wore 13 button pants at all. FWIW, the 13 button pants are a lot easier to get out of than any pants I’ve worn since.

                1. They switched it to the utility pants by the time I got in– picture postal worker uniforms.

                  They also provided them for the test, so we didn’t get our own wet… I’ve NEVER seen pants that big before!

                2. We learned to use our pants as a floatation device in boy scouts, I once seen a boy try that with ‘painted on’ Wranglers. Not a good idea 😉

                  1. Water Safety Course in the Army teaches the same thing. Take off boots, fill wet pants with air, use as floatation device.

    2. Yep — my second son, I didn’t know I was pregnant to the sixth month — I was house hunting/packing/moving. I quite NORMALLY skip bleeding in that circumstance.

  15. On the evil thingee — I would say that evil is the deliberate sacrifice of a greater good to a lesser good. Which is not original with me.

  16. (Biology can have its own definitions…we’re discussing ethics.)
    If it can communicate in sentences, it’s human.
    If it’s alive and its cells are built on human DNA (that is, genetically descended in any fashion and to any degree from any entity presently considered “human” by any society), it’s human.
    If any identifiable human culture (yes, it’s recursive — deal!) has ever regarded entities of its kind as human, it’s human.
    If, to be blunt, there is _any plausible room whatsoever_ to argue that it’s human, then it’s human.

    Sometimes killing humans is necessary. Sometimes it’s even just. The right to life is not absolute. It doesn’t, for example, apply to either violent criminals or malignant tumors, both of which we can kill, if we need to, in order to defend ourselves against them. And our uncertainty about future events justifies a rather lenient definition of “need to”.

    But even when we are justified in killing them, and indeed even when we are in the literal _process_ of killing them, we are not justified in defining them as “non-human”. Not because an erroneous definition is especially harmful to the dead, but because it’s _uniquely_ harmful to the living.

    1. YES! I considered adding a paragraph about that. The horror of the Gosnell case was the disposal of the bodies. It didn’t do anything to those poor mites, who were dead already, but it did something to the humanity of people who did this. The “decent burial laws” don’t protect the dead. they protect our OWN humanity.

    2. If any identifiable human culture (yes, it’s recursive — deal!) has ever regarded entities of its kind as human, it’s human.

      so if any culture anywhere ever treated any animal as, say, a reincarnation of a human being, that species is human?

          1. There are a lot of human cultures which believe/believed in reincarnation.

            Notoriously, the pre-Christian Irish were one. (Although to be fair, they were so Indo-European they might as well have been wearing saris instead of gunas. They had a caste system, for goodness’ sake.)

            1. How true. The will to stereotype, however, can be very strong — strong enough that some people actually attribute their own stereotypes to those they are projecting them on, without even noticing.

    3. Not because an erroneous definition is especially harmful to the dead, but because it’s _uniquely_ harmful to the living.

      This, and this again.

  17. I agree with most of what Sarah said, so I don’t have an additional comment. But I had to say how impressed I am at the civil nature of the tone over such a divisive issue. It’s refreshing to see.

    1. It’s because we’re actually discussing the fundamental issue, rather than begging the question and assigning motives based on that.

  18. One thing no one has mentioned here is the destruction of personal accountability that leads to most unwanted pregnancies, and the refusal to accept any responsibility for whatever child might or might not be born. The “nothing is our fault” mentality which is central to victimhood also creates an attitude of refusing to accept resposibilities for behavior. It’s both sickening and deadly. Our form of government is founded on personal responsibility. Destroying that responsibility will certainly result in our destruction as a nation, as well.

    There’s something else that’s happening, also. Abortion, combined with the idiocy displayed in most “departments of social services”, has severely restricted the number of children available for adoption, unless you go through a private agency. Even there it’s chancy.

    1. My second-to-last landlady (before becoming a house-owner) was an attorney, specializing in family law and particularly adoptions. I heard some horror stories from her about the adoption system in this country. Several of my wife’s friends are going through infertility problems, and have tried looking into adoption…I hear more horror stories from them. We’ve investigated it ourselves…it’s not for the faint of heart.

      There’s a reason anyone who can afford to goes to China or Africa or whatever to adopt a kid. (And given the source, it can’t possibly because “they only want perfectly-healthy white babies”, as the myth goes. They obviously won’t be white, and given the conditions in a typical third-world orphanage, I wouldn’t bet heavy on “perfectly healthy” either. But if we had the cash, we’d be buying the plane tickets.)

      1. We have two adopted adult children, and will probably end up adopting Timmy very soon. I cannot stress this enough — DON’T go to DHS, go to a private agency (Catholic Charities is a very good one, but your chances go down if you’re not a Catholic. There are others, both church-based and otherwise). It took us six months and several thousand dollars to adopt our son through DHS, and we had people on the inside helping us. It took us THREE DAYS to adopt our daughter through Jewish Services (we’re not Jewish, either). Timmy may be a special case — he’s been here the majority of the last eight years, and he’s firmly attached. We already have custody. All we need is the paperwork (lawyer) and the stamp of approval (judge).

        1. “We have two adopted adult children, and will probably end up adopting Timmy very soon. I cannot stress this enough — DON’T go to DHS”

          Having three adopted adult children, I must disagree. DHS was very helpful to us. They required we go through a training program on parenting adopted children. During which we met with other adoptive parents of older children and how those children can be VERY difficult. Subsequent to our getting our three children, all on the same day, DHS also provided annual get togethers with other adoptive parents to share experiences and tips they’d found successful.

          Perhaps Mike is correct if you only want one baby. If you’re willing to take older children, especially sibling groups, go to the DHS in your state. They’ll bend over backward with assistance in insuring your success. Most states have an over abundance of children waiting for a forever parent living in foster homes.

          1. What ours seems to mostly have is older children being jerked around for years waiting for a final decision on whether the families they live with will be allowed to adopt them, or whether they’ll be returned to the families they came from (or some relatives thereof), despite those families having been demonstrably bad enough to forcibly remove them in the first place. The advice the fostering parents get is to not get too attached, since they probably won’t get to keep them.

            The law, as it typically does, simply makes an already intrinsically tragic situation even worse.

            I salute wholeheartedly those with the emotional fortitude to put up with such nonsense. After all, the kids need homes, no matter how asinine the family court system is. But as I said…not for the faint of heart. Not by a longshot.

            1. The Rosseau idea that the original family is always better due to… I don’t know “mumbo jumbo” has permeated the system. I was discouraged from trying, after Robert (We thought we’d never have another, and to be an only child born after six years of infertility would have ruined that kid forever) when there was a prominent case of an ADOPTED daughter, adopted at birth, being yanked from the family because the gangbanger baby-daddy had become a “Christian” (obviously not a real one!) and wanted his little girl back, so he could be right with his new wife. (head>desk.)

            2. “What ours seems to mostly have is older children being jerked around for years waiting for a final decision on whether the families they live with will be allowed to adopt them, or whether they’ll be returned to the families they came from (or some relatives thereof), despite those families having been demonstrably bad enough to forcibly remove them in the first place.”

              And that is exactly why we decided we were not going to be foster parents. We said we’d take a sibling group who were already legally removed from their families. And we waited all of 2 months after the completion of our training before we were notified of the availability of our kids. Even then we had to wait an extra month because the biological father of our oldest thought he could improve his conditions in prison by refusing to release his claim, and the legal advertisement for our youngest whose biological father was unknown.

              1. Yes. We have considered doing that, because apparently it’s easier, quicker and cheaper to adopt sibling groups in CO — and since I’m technically “Latina” there are quite a few waiting, which they won’t let go to “white” families.

    2. One thing no one has mentioned here is the destruction of personal accountability that leads to most unwanted pregnancies, and the refusal to accept any responsibility for whatever child might or might not be born. The “nothing is our fault” mentality which is central to victimhood also creates an attitude of refusing to accept resposibilities for behavior.

      But they were responsible. Most of the time, they were using birth control, having “safe sex.”

      So they’re entitled to not have a child.
      Same way that a woman who pays for an abortion is entitled to a dead child at the end.
      Honestly, I’m kind of shocked at how many pro-lifers hadn’t run into the notion, expressed by the Planned Parenthood woman in testimony a while back, that getting an abortion means you’re entitled to a corpse at the end. AT LEAST a decade ago there were folks offering early-induction of labor to adopt the kid in late term abortion cases, and being turned down.

  19. Why didn’t you use the term American in A Few Good Men?

    If a woman doesn’t want to be enslaved by pregnancy she shouldn’t have sex. I really don’t think that you can separate having sex from having kids. You don’t get pregnant every time you have sex, but it happens frequently enough that I think that the two are entirely enmeshed. I knew someone who had kids despite using three different kinds of contraceptives.

      1. I personally think that it is immoral to have sex unless one wants to have children, and is prepared to care enough for them. If one doesn’t have the emotional function appropriate for child-rearing, tough. If one can’t be reasonably sure of gathering enough resources, tough. Neither the world nor anyone owes me intercourse. Actions have consequences.

        1. If I can’t find any partners that I would trust to collaborate on child-rearing, tough.

            1. This is the opinion of both my sons. Me? I want to have grandsons, but I don’t want my grandsons to fall to abortion mills. (What, you don’t want granddaughters? Well, maybe one of them will marry a girl whose family runs to girls and give me some. But I’m not raising my hopes 😉 )

              1. The one just needs to find a nice shoggoth girl.

                Oh, new avatars. Mine looks like a skull face, sorta. Maybe appropriate.

                1. I liked my red critter better. This may force me to use a Gravatar image of a book cover in self defense.

            2. Well, I’m more than my hormones too, but I’ve been losing weight this last year ….

              and wearing pants.

        2. Neither the world nor anyone owes me intercourse.

          So, your position is that the world doesn’t give a f_ck?

          Right in 1, please claim your kewpie doll.

          N.B. – Kewpie dolls provided for hugging purposes only. Any attempt to develop deeper relationships any kind of with this kewpie dills is recommended against and may void warranty

          1. You’re confusing right and left again, RES. Kewpie DOLLS are for hugging, Kewpie DILLS are used for other purposes. However, they do NOT work well sliced and placed on hamburgers.

            1. Sigh – I needs me a keyboard where the keys don’t slide around so much. I keep hitting the right spots, but obviously the keys are dodging around.

        3. I may be strange, but if a woman wasn’t decent enough of a person to marry and have children with, why would you want to have sex with her, unless she’s a paid professional, and all you want is stress relief?

          1. Cause you don’t want to pay and you want the stress relief?

            Because it’s *fun*?

            Modern birth control methods are pretty reliable when used properly. Which is the rub.

            1. A high end of one in 100 is “pretty reliable”? I sure wouldn’t gamble with a 1 in 100 chance of my car being totaled each year I do something, and raising a kid is a lot more expensive. (and this is assuming that the “ideal use” numbers are accurate, and ignores that alcohol is known to interfere with the Pill)

              You want your “fun,” you gotta accept the whole price. Can’t complain that you still have car payments after you crash the car.

              1. Not argueing with your opinion, just with your example. I doubt that your chances of totaling your car each year are as good as 1 in 100, most people total AT LEAST one car in their lifetime, and very few drive for 100 years.

                1. One problem is that the one in a hundred figure is based on bad stats. The failure rates for contraceptives misrepresent their effectiveness by failing to disaggregate 30-something soccer moms and 15-something kids who routinely forget their purse.

                  1. . The failure rates for contraceptives misrepresent their effectiveness by failing to disaggregate 30-something soccer moms and 15-something kids who routinely forget their purse.

                    Hm, now I’m wondering if perhaps the average fertility of those using it “imperfectly” might be included; betting that the “perfect use” test cases were at least late college age, if not 30+.

                2. Ah, but some people total multiple cars a year. (I wish I was exaggerating– my home valley has a lot of illegal aliens, and since the cars aren’t registered, and aren’t insured, and they’ve usually got at LEAST one recreational substance in their bloodstream…ugh.)

                  That would set the baseline risk of car-totaling much lower, and you’d have to have a massive artificial lowering of the risk (such as being a bike nut who only moves under his own power) to replicate the “slam the female reproductive system with massive amounts of hormones to try to break it” situation.

                  1. “Ah, but some people total multiple cars a year.”

                    True, I’ve totaled 3 (well 4 if you count the one that was hit and runned in a parking lot while I was inside the store) in my life. Only 2 of which were my fault, and only one of which wasn’t in my teens. Which means I haven’t totaled one in ten years, and that one was caused by someone rearending me on I-5 while I was doing 65, hard enough to slam me into the guardrail and flip my pickup on its top. That is the only one where recreational substances were involved, and I wasn’t the one taking them.
                    I hope to never total another one in my life, but fully expect that as much as I drive I won’t be that lucky. I consider myself a good driver (I wasn’t as a teen, but felony vehicular assault charges and 3 months in jail tends to do wonders to improving your driving safety) but there are a lot of idiots out there, and putting 75K+ on a year stacks the odds against you.

              2. I paid court ordered child support for 21 years, including–when I was financially able–an additional 200 percent. I *still* give her money every month for college even though she’s married (long story).

                Of course that wasn’t a failure of BC. That me trusting a woman who said that she couldn’t have kids.

                1. There’s no woman on earth who _knows_ she can’t have kids. The story of Sarah in the Bible is an extreme example, but normal people not utilizing fertility drugs or treatment have found themselves in similar situations. (And there are some women living without important parts of the reproductive system whose bodies are still trying, which can be a very dangerous situation.)

                  So yeah, I’m sure you were lied to; but I’m equally sure that none of us ladies can honestly be sure. It’s all approximations, when it comes to women’s health stuff.

                  1. My mom was convinced she could never have children because she was born butt-up. In HER village (I don’t think in mine) everyone knew that meant she would be sterile. Which suited her fine. (For the record, she really SHOULD NOT have had children. If she’d been in the US, with no extended family around it would have been very very bad. Through no fault of her own, I might add.)

                    As for me, I wanted a LARGE family. I used to wonder where I got it from. Consider my dad’s consideration for my mom that the other day, on the phone with him, I said “I wanted twelve kids” and he sighed and said “me too” and it was the first time I even heard him HINT at that. So I guess I get it from dad.

                    Anyway, Dan jokes that now we’ve given up and I’m fifty, I’ll suddenly find myself pregnant with number 3. He says it’s all my fault for calling myself “Sarah”. I’d be okay with that.

                2. That is you choosing to be a good man after your “fun” had natural consequences consisting of giving you a child — not the system victimizing someone for just wanting fun.
                  Protecting the rights of the kids.
                  That you’re a good enough person to also take care of your child’s mother does nothing to change the guys I know who complain about the $50/mo per kid ordered child support.

      2. In a era when abortion and government stipends for “baby mommas” are readily available there is no justification for imposing such a burden on a man.

        Which only a cynic would say probably explains the fact that the staunchest advocacy of easily available abortions and government subsidies for unmarried mothers can be found on the same side of the political aisle as defenders of the hook-up culture, profiteers from abortion and men happy to sexually exploit women.

        1. But again, aren’t you confusing the needs and deserts of the sexual partner with those of the son or daughter? Is it really a question of “imposing a burden” on a father, or just an acknowledgement that he is a father, regardless of what he thinks of the mother or her choices, circumstances, or politics? After all, if she’s that awful, why was he risking procreating with her? There ought to be some concern with not creating a child whose other parent is someone we don’t know to be fit.

          1. Mind your pronouns, please. I am confusing nothing. I am channeling the views of some very confused people, people striving to reduce themselves to animals. And I channel the views of those encouraging their malbehaviour.

            In this world I have found very little correlation between what “ought to be” and what actually is. That is one reason I pay my respects to those willing to accept the burden of proper behaviour.

          2. BTW, in the scenario expressed the male is no father, merely a sire — and has been taught to view any possible byblow of his lust as disposable, just as has the mother. Why should he be any more concerned about the possibility of creating a child than about leaving a wet spot on the bed?

            Disgusting, yes, but is he more deserving of disgust as those who taught him such views?

          3. I took you to be expressing your own views when you said “In a era when abortion and government stipends for ‘baby mommas’ are readily available there is no justification for imposing such a burden on a man.” If that’s your view, then I’m suggesting that it’s you who are confusing the needs and deserts of the sexual partner with those of the son or daughter. But if you meant only to be quoting confused people, then my comment is directed to them.

            1. On reviewing the comment in question I can see how that might have been your interpretation. My regrets.

              The question remains, when we have told mother, who can directly experience the life growing in her womb, that it is a disposable inconvenience, is it unreasonable to expect the sire to take the matter more seriously? He would reasonably view it as an unjust demand from a society which taught him the act was meaningless, the partner irrelevant.

              1. “When we have told mother, who can directly experience the life growing in her womb, that it is a disposable inconvenience, is it unreasonable to expect the sire to take the matter more seriously? ”

                Sure, assuming the father is a self-respecting moral human being. But if you mean that we’re risking numbing a man’s conscience by treating the woman as if she shouldn’t have a conscience either, then I agree.

                Still, a man has a duty to his own son or daughter, no matter how much of a jerk the woman is, or how dumb he was to choose her, or how fervently his society tries to tell either of them it’s OK to stuff the kids. It’s tempting to get back at either the mother or society, but it can never be justified, because it’s the child that pays the price.

                1. … assuming the father is a self-respecting moral human being.

                  What fraction of society do you think falls into that description? I see no evidence in present day or history that such people ever constitute more than a sizable minority — at most — of the population, male or female. Women, at least, have their biology as an imperative to act morally, yet (based on current out-of-wedlock birth rates) only a minority do.

                  Look at Pride and Prejudice, a novel as clear-eyed as any ever has been in its depiction of its milieu, describing a zeitgeist notable for its highly demanding standards and we note the detestable George Wickham presented as a portrait of a man to be commonly found.

                  Throughout human history such character as you look for is notably absent. To base laws on the expectations that more men are like Fitzwilliam Darcy than George Wickham is to build your society on a foundation of sand. Sadly, at best you will find an abundance of men like William Collins.

                  1. I wasn’t suggesting anything about what percentage of people will live up to moral standards. Your question was whether we could expect a man to live up to his moral responsibilities when he saw evidence around of him of people who did not. I’m only saying that the failures of people around him have no power to alter his responsibility to his own son or daughter. If anything, they make the responsibility more important, since he can’t reasonably expect other people to be reliable about picking up his slack.

                    The error in the formulation you described is that it allows justifiable irritation with bad women (or bad politicians) to distract us from a simple and irreducible fact: the father owes something to his son or daughter. He can no more choose that the small helpless creature not “really be” his son or daughter than a pregnant woman can choose that the baby in her body not “really be” a person.

          1. Sigh. Duh. I just can’t understand how abortion became a sacrament of feminism. In the end the woman is the one who pays — physically and psychologically.

            1. Some feminists were/are motivated by noble goals: equal access to work, voting, and so on. Other feminists were/are motivated by the goal of “me, me, mine, mine, mine”. (Case in point: Sandra Fluke). It’s the latter who are advocating the loudest for abortion on demand, anywhere and everywhere, paid for by somebody else. And do you think they possess even the slightest potential for deep thought, of the kind that is required to realize that eventually, the would-have-been-mother is the one who pays the price for the murder she hires someone else to commit?

              1. I can tell you from personal experience that it was sometimes motivated by a desire of women to have access to sex while retaining the same control over the decision whether to become a parent that men traditionally have had. Birth control evened the playing field considerably, considering the inescapable fact that a woman is legally, socially, biologically, and psychologically much less free to walk away from her baby than a man is; he may be long gone by the time the baby arrives, and may find it easy to avoid any emotional ties to the small stranger, especially if he’s lost interest in the mother.

                The problem came when we elided the difference between preventing conception and aborting a fetus. If the fetus were not a baby and person, the two practices would be pretty comparable socially and psychologically, just as they are legally today. It was very, very tempting for a woman to know that if she got “caught,” she could walk away as easily as a man.

                But, unlike birth control, that left a separate human being in the lurch. Women who became pregnant by accident were–and are–highly motivated to avoid recognizing the humanity of that small human being. (Men, too, of course, but the problem has a special urgency for a pregnant woman. She can’t skip town. If she wants to abandon the baby she has to kill it openly. It’s kind of like Bob’s suggestion that euthanasia of brain-dead patients should be carried out by a doctor with a pistol, so as to focus everyone’s attention on what’s really happening.)

                1. A man’s traditional control over when to become a father consisted of not getting laid. Nowadays, owing to DNA testing, he can’t even slough it off by claiming that the woman is falsely attributing paternity.

                  Whatever they demand is inequality.

    1. I remember the stupidity from Sex Ed. Even then, I had intuition enough to think, no matter the probability per trial, as the number of trials increases, the overall certainty approaches one. They were essentially talking lowering trial probability with no implied limits on trials.

      I found it very easy to see that zero trials until marriage, with marriage narrowly defined, was the bare minimum for fulfilling my duty towards my hypothetical children, and to avoid being party to any atrocities that I couldn’t stomach.

      1. Sadly, this means people prone to anticipating consequences are less likely to breed, while the less responsible are more likely. On the plus side, such children as the first group has are more likely to reach maturity and pass along their genetic material.

        On the minus side, several government policies are that effectively mitigate that consequence are being maintained.

    2. “Why didn’t you use the term American in A Few Good Men?”

      Sarah answers for herself, of course, but I’ll also throw in that “America”, properly speaking, is a continent. There is nothing all that special about it, really, except that it happens to be the geographic location where the creed of personal liberty found its purest expression, once. Many of its inhabitants still believe in some watered-down version or another of that creed. Some weirdos even believe in the full-flavor version. But it’s not like the idea comes in the water supply or something. It’s purely a thing of the mind and will…it grabs folks rather often in far off places never historically known for such ideas, and distressingly often it utterly fails to do so right here.

      It can be argued (and if the subject ever came up, probably would be accepted by a majority of the global population, in the world of AFGM) that one is “American” because one comes from America. Which has precious little, in Sarah’s fictional world or for that matter our factual one, to do with whether or not one believes in the creed of personal liberty.

      The “usaians” are defined by their creed. By that ideology, if you will. Wherever they happen to come from. And indeed none of the marquee characters _are_ American…but they’re most emphatically “usaian”.

      1. Thank you. You explained it admirably well. (In my defense I’m working today through a blinding sinus headache DESPITE medication.) It’s akin to seeing through cheese.

        1. For what it’s worth, we used to use the term Usaian on the usenet group rec.arts.science-fiction.composition. There were quite a few participants from the other side of the pond so there tended to be discussions of what is different here than there, and what not. I don’t know why we used Usaian… I think it might have been a brit thing. I suppose it’s searchable.

          1. While I don’t mind Sarah’s usage of Usaian, too often I get the idea that people who use that term are telling Americans that we must use Usaian not American.

            We were called Americans long before there was a USA. The English used it to mean Europeans living in England’s American Colonies.

            Sarah’s term means those who believe in the American ideals.

            The other usage means that Americans don’t have the right to decide what we are to be called.

            No offense intended to you, but the other usage gets annoying.

            1. I will fill in the future history with novels and novellas, Drak. You’re getting the right vibe. After the US falls it’s used as a derogatory term and it’s embraced as “yankee” was. “Yeah, we’re Usaians. And guess what? We’re not ashamed.”

            2. I’m not offended. It was just a data point.

              For what it’s worth, I think (I did go and search it and look how we used it) that it wasn’t about avoiding “American” so much as using US and USA all the time and wanting a parallel usage. Sure, there are people who will go on about how “American” can describe Canadians or Mexicans or Brazilians but while that may have been expressed, I don’t think it got much traction. After all, have you met a Canadian who is going to insist on being called American? Of course not.

              1. There is a class of people that you’ve been fortunate to have not met on-line who go on about “Americans should call themselves USAians or USAese because there are other countries in the Americas”. At best they’re just kooks but they get annoying. [Sad Smile]

            3. “We were called Americans long before there was a USA. The English used it to mean Europeans living in England’s American Colonies.”

              So people living in Canada have the right to be called American? Continuing to use an archaic descriptive term doesn’t mean it’s useful.

              1. So what? Do you want Americans to be forced to call themselves “USAians”?

                  1. OK. Just remember that there’s a thin line between “being obnoxious” and “being an a**hole”. [Very Very Big Evil Grin]

      2. I’ve more than once played with the idea that it is the location, in part. See, people from a society being seduced by a call others don’t hear, traveling to a strange and untrafficked place, and there practicing strange alien rituals is fairly mythosy, and almost exactly describes the settlement of the United States of America. Suppose that the United States of America is a mythos entity, or something likewise in genre. Might it not be the same as what we see? Might not we be following in the footsteps of strange long dead beings who here practiced liberty back before oxygen came into the atmosphere? Wouldn’t that be a fun joke on all those who still have all their SAN?
        🙂

      3. Note, please, that when engaged in various of their religious rituals they do not chant AMERICA, they chant USA, USA, USA …

      4. Actually America is two continents joined by a narrow strip of land. Perhaps you’re following the hubris of citizens of U.S.A. who declare themselves to be the only inhabitants those two continents.

        1. Nuh, we were the first to form an independent nation able to hope to fight off the European powers. We got first dibs on the name. I tend to argue the other school is just ‘we are playing with nomenclature in order to help justify wiping you out and erasing you as a nation’ stuff. Like a lot of the other fights about what a nation is called.

          Look at how Colombia has mostly suppressed the usage of one of our old poetic names, Columbia.

          1. ” We got first dibs on the name. ”
            You’re correct. And we did claim the name ‘United States of America” which does not make us Americans. If anything, Sarah gave the right answer, we’re USAians, pronounced us-?

            1. I can’t remember who first coined the name American and my google search doesn’t reveal anything… but I think it was coined by Benjamin Franklin (or maybe Patrick Henry) to make the colonists in pre-Revolutionary days to feel kinship… I could have remembered this wrong– and I did try to find it– take it for what it is worth.

              1. IMO you’re remembering Orson Scott Card’s line {about Franklin} in his alternate history America.

                The term “Americans” was used by the English referring to the people of their colonies in America long before the revolution.

                Nobody “invented” it. The term was just used. {Smile]

            2. “American” is a reasonable abbreviation of United States of America. Just as Republica Federativa do Brasil is commonly shortened as Brazil and the name of our immediate southern neighbor is typically shortened to Mexico in place of United Mexican States.

            3. Our country is the USA, our nationality is Americans.

              It annoys some folks these days, mostly ones that really want to be annoyed. *holds up thumb and pointer finger, barely touching* See this tiny violin? Guess what kind of song it’s playing for them…..

        2. The English called us Americans long before we had a little revolution. 🙂

          Sent from my ASUS Pad

          According To Hoyt wrote:

          > a:hover { color: red; } a { text-decoration: none; color: #0088cc; } a.primaryactionlink:link, a.primaryactionlink:visited { background-color: #2585B2; color: #fff; } a.primaryactionlink:hover, a.primaryactionlink:active { background-color: #11729E !important; color: #fff !important; } /* @media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .post { min-width: 700px !important; } } */ WordPress.com Marty commented: “Actually America is two continents joined by a narrow strip of land. Perhaps you’re following the hubris of citizens of U.S.A. who declare themselves to be the only inhabitants those two continents.”

        3. Nah. I merely dispute the sensibility of deciding that a single land mass is actually two continents. I mean, it does make more sense than declaring that Europe and Asia aren’t the same continent, but it still doesn’t make _sense_. 🙂

          1. We cured that little problem quite a while back. It is called the Panama Canal. Now if those Eurasians would just do the same…

      5. Well, properly speaking it’s two continents, the north one and the one on the bottom. Don’t know if it’s still true, but once upon a time when you crossed back into the US from old Mexico the border agents would ask your nationality and got a bit put out should one answer “I’m an American,” when the proper response is of course “I am a citizen of the United States of America.”

  20. Wow, Sarah. You have (riveting) personal experience with civil unrest in Portugal–which clearly shapes your views on government, society and individualism. You also have soul-wrenching personal experience on *both ends* (mother and baby) of the abortion debate.

    I suggest you consider what other society-shaking philosophical debates define our time–and then run like heck!

    1. And my opinions on gay marriage (yes, I’m for, yes I could give reasons. No, I’m not going to. I did over at Classical Values and here too if you look up the post in which I say “In which piss off everyone” or words to that intent) are entirely devoid of personal experience.

      I’m not sure my experiences with being born/being a mother are unique. Or that they’ve shaped my opinion. I was already a wuss about killing anything when I got pregnant. You’re looking at the (writing of) the only woman who agonized over removing a wasp’s next and FINALLY did it because she is allergic.

      1. Personally, I’ve long maintained that our government has no business being in the marriage business at all at all. At most they should issue certificates of civil union to establish a legal contract for tax and inheritance purposes. Marriage, OTOH, ought to be a religious experience sanctified by whatever rules adopted by your faith of choice. I see the sad fact that we have conflated the two to be a clear and present violation of the spirit of separation of Church and State.

        1. I take the attitude that if it can define a corporation, and control inheritance along family lines, then it has a legitimate role in defining marriage. If it defines business entities, and a family is a business entity…

          If it can be obliged to allow variations in marriage, then it should also be obliged to allow variation in other contracts related to business.

          Potential ‘poison pill’ options I’m interested are, for employment, no union contracts, lower than minimum wage hiring, and oaths of fealty*.

          *Yes, I want the Labor Department to stop hindering business. I would actually have concerns over the oath of fealty business. Would likely have sovereignty issues if we had the law acknowledging feudal oaths, even if between two consenting adults.

  21. Wow, there is so much going on here it is hard to know where to begin. But I feel compelled to drop my penny in the slot. I have known some women who have had abortions, and all but one had guilt feelings about it. I do not condemn any of them, did not judge them or their motives and hope they find solace somewhere. If they believed in G_d I would assure them that as far as I understand G_d will forgive them. Now I was never confronted by the issue of my wife having an unwanted pregnancy. I never regretted having children( although at times I considered solitary confinement for them.)
    Now if you believe that humans have souls then a genetically modified human would also have a soul. There are a lot of humans with genetic defects, and they would have souls. Did Neanderthals have souls? Were they human? Well some believe that we have traces of Neanderthal DNA. I would believe that they and the Denisovans were human. But that leads to an interesting question, if a human with a soul mates with a genetically compatible non-human, would the children have souls?

    1. As far as what G-d can forgive us for, depending on what edition of Him you subscribe to, I would say either a) He can forgive pretty much anything except failing to ask his forgiveness or b) if that is the only unforgivable act you have on your ledger, you have led an amazing life

    2. “But that leads to an interesting question, if a human with a soul mates with a genetically compatible non-human, would the children have souls?”

      Do the children of politicians have souls? I believe politicians are heterozygous on the lack of souls, (do to the fact that being homozygous for lack of soul makes the embryo inviable, causing it to be reabsorbed) and the lack of a soul is a dominant trait, therefore the children of a politician and a nonpolitician have a 50% percent chance of having a soul. If two politicians breed, there is a 25% chance that the resulting embryo will be homozygous for a lack of soul, resulting in reabsorption, a 25% chance the embryo will by homozygous for a soul, and therefore have one, and a 50% chance they will be heterozygous for a lack of soul, and due to a lack of soul being a dominant trait they will not have one. Therefore, there is a 66.67% chance that the offspring of two politicians will not have a soul.

  22. anencephalic human bodies:Fetuses afflicted with anencephaly, if carried to term, are born blind, deaf, unable to feel pain or certain physical stimuli, and are not conscious. They are, however, able to exhibit reflex and autonomic functions because their brainstem has not been affected, and thus are able to breathe, and depending on the situation, able to react to certain stimuli. Anencephaly may also affect the baby’s physical appearance: there is an obvious and large fissure in the back of the child’s head, sometimes extending to the forehead, where their tissue and brain are exposed; they may have overly protruding eyes; extremely disfigured head and face; and other malformed facial features. These children’s bodies are otherwise perfectly formed and healthy. Unfortunately, these babies will never be cognizant or able to think or talk, for they are totally unconscious their whole lives. (http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/54)

    1. could future brain augmentation “bring them to life”..attain consciousness? Or is there no consciousness THERE?

    2…ok…just grow these guys and use them for personal organ banks…?

    3..better yet grow one as a personal back up when your body get’s old.

    what MAKES one human?

    1. Actually, there’s a fair amount of acephalic people out there who just have good-looking skulls and hard-working, highly adaptive brainstems. They generally never find out they’ve got no brains, per se, because they’re too busy living normal lives. They walk, they talk, they make money, and they’d probably fight you for their organs.

      So yeah, even if I weren’t Catholic, I’d be against treating acephalic humans as animals or zombie bodies.

      1. *Blink, blink*

        While I’m normally prepared to just take the word of one of Sarah’s regular commenters at face value and assume he/she knows what he/she is talking about, I have GOT to see a cite for this one. :-O

            1. Mr. Lizardbrain is your backup.

              Of course, the big question is why some people’s brainstems become their brains at need, and other brainstems don’t.

              1. Hamlet, Act 1. Scene V:

                There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

                Or in our present understanding of human function and existence.

  23. It’s what you get when you have only bad solutions to a problem. Yes, I am “pro-choice” but I completely agree with you on the weasely-ness of that term. Abortion is ugly, and I don’t like the people who try to sugar-coat it, to pretend it’s somehow okay, and I have a deep respect and understanding for those who are completely against it, at any point.

    Robert Bork said that he’s like to see the pro-life and pro-abortion crowd stop wasting time and energy yelling at each other about which of two bad solutions was the worst, and instead team up to develop some better ones (I want an artificial womb, or the ability to transplant a fetus, myself – that would pretty much end the argument.)

    As for what is human? I look to the mind and soul, rather than genetics. (Of course, I also think my birds are human (they think I’m a funny looking bird). I’m only part-joking here. ^_^)

    1. re: the artificial womb, I think that would solve a lot of the medical ethical issues — but I have come across research where women who had/would seek abortions were asked if they would reconsider if that technology were available, and they overwhelmingly said NO. They essentially wanted the pregnancy to have “never happened.”

      Interesting discussion about souls, especially since the latest book features a newly self-aware AI that will probably start wondering if it has one soon 😉 Not sure I go with “souls” in the religious sense (not religious, me), but something like a proto-soul, or recognition of awareness in other living things. Lots of examples of inter-species nurturing or rescue. Maybe it hinges on *knowing* you have that spark. Sapience.

      I was once on a beach with a young autistic boy, keeping an eye on him while he played. HE didn’t seem to recognize that awareness. Me, a seagull, a piece of driftwood–he reacted the same to all. The seagull on the other hand, eyeballed me and knew damn well I wasn’t a piece of driftwood. We made eye contact. But if anyone wants to convince me that sky-rat has a soul they’d have to use the highest-octane psycotropics known to science 😉

      1. I once saw on online debate where one woman agreed that you lost the right to abortion when the baby could be removed alive with no more fuss than an abortion, and another woman insisted that since either operation was on her body, she was entitled to the one that killed the baby, and the first woman could not realize that she meant it, that in her eyes she had a right not to control her own body, but to a dead baby.

        Like a case a few decades back where a couple starved to death their newborn with Downs Syndrome rather than allow a simple operation. They hated the “cruelty” of people who offered to adopt the baby.

      2. Not sure I go with “souls” in the religious sense (not religious, me), but something like a proto-soul, or recognition of awareness in other living things. Lots of examples of inter-species nurturing or rescue. Maybe it hinges on *knowing* you have that spark. Sapience.

        Not anywhere NEAR my pay grade to rule on that, only know I could tell the difference between a live cat and a not live one when she was in my arms. I take the premise of granting the probability, weighted by observed evidence, in lieu of proof otherwise.

        Of course, not all souls are good souls. Some have been delivered from the lowest depths.

      3. Does it matter whether they want to convince it’s the same sort of soul you have, or if there is a difference between a rational and a sensitive soul?

      4. re: sky rats — they have occupied the parking lots of shopping malls in our Piedmont NC city since Hugo blew them in land. I would argue that if they have a soul it would be small, shriveled, dry, and pitiless … 😉

      5. I am convinced that animals have souls–but then, this is religious belief combined with the watching of various animals. I’m just not convinced that animal souls are human, nor does having a soul give you automatic rights. I’ll grant those rights to animals when I have regular conversations with them, where they express the desire to have those rights, and to fulfill the duties that come with those rights.

        I am often fascinated by watching a given animal, and wondering about the type of soul, and the type of intelligence, it takes, to be that animal. It’s interesting to realize that a cat, a rat, a dog, a ferret, and a crow, may all have the same level of intelligence, yet to see the sometimes completely different ways that intelligence manifests itself.

        1. As I said — I’ll give up meat in a New York Minute as soon as vat meat is available. I like those animals who’ve come into our camp fire circles: cats, dogs. I even like guinea pigs (alive and breathing.) BUT make no mistake, the moment we go to vat meat is the moment the domestic cow and chicken become extinct.

          1. Chuckle Chuckle.

            In one of Jerry Pournelle’s novels there’s a throw-away line. Apparently after fur was outlawed for clothing, the fur-bearing animals of Earth went extinct. IE no reason of a crowded Earth to keep them alive. [Grin]

        2. Do you suggest that we grant rights based upon the ability to speak? Not just that, but only to those who speak a language which you comprehend… Or is this just a unfortunate misunderstanding?

          I agree that there are not only rights, but also duties. I also think that the best government, at every level, is the least. What exactly this looks like is part of a long ongoing debate. I am right fond of The Declaration of Independence. I adhere to the theory that our rights do not come from and are not granted to us by the government. Rather, the government is the agent of the people. If it does not recognize that which is ours inherently by existence it has failed us. Yes, government has failed in the past; it will also fail in the future. It is made up of people, and people are fallible. This is one reason that government needs to be constrained.

    2. I want an artificial womb — but you’d have to either wear it, or pay people to wear it (which they do in Eden, as we get into that) or else simulate being on a person. The kid, it seems, is learning language even while inside. Other stuff too, possibly.

      1. Just pipe audio into the lab housing the wombs. A nice steady stream of NPR…no, wait, FOX…not really an improvement…how about the audio version of the collected works of Hoyt? There’s the ticket.

          1. Also, the kid is learning the daily schedule. Putting newborns down to nap before dinner, when everyone’s coming home and talking and working at dinner is unwise — they spent nine months in the thick of things, and they know it’s not quiet time.

            1. Easy solution: have a place for napping in the living room, or wherever the center of the action is; it’s made it so our girls sleep through ANYTHING, if they’re tired, and also entertains them without drawing sibling envy.

    3. Alas, the artificial womb doesn’t solve the problem. It will allow us to create baby factories and do with the results what the lowest among us pleases. The problem remains that you have to define when does ensoulment happen. I know that’s religious talk, but really isn’t that what we’re talking about–even if we’re atheists? When are we endowed with inalienable rights?

  24. Of topic– two bombs just went off at the Boston Marathon at the finish line (we had a friend running the marathon and is safe)–

    1. Amazingly enough, Obama is admitting this is terrorism this time. I have relatives in Boston, but I don’t think any were running the marathon this year.

      1. Yea– amazing. Glad you family was safe there. Thankfully those people we know are okay and others from our area who went to the marathon.

  25. I would like to make three observations:
    1) If you reserve human for biological human and use person instead, it simplifies the thought process while allowing you to make all your points. By all means do not use alive/not alive. If it is not rotting, it is alive.
    2) In regard to accidental pregnancies, I believe that most of them are not accidental. They are either for the emotional or financial gain of the mother. (often the stupid mother).
    3) People killed in self defence are often stripped of their humanity before being killed. It is in fact one of the things that you are trained to do in self-defence classes. The person attacking becomes “the attacker”, “the threat”, “the goblin” … never “the person”. There is nothing wrong with this as long as the decision to do it (and to potentially kill the attacker) is made correctly and for the right reasons.

    1. re (3) Indeed. In the classes I took, we were taught to recognize “I fear for my life and/or the life of my family/other helpless person” first, then to think about what needed to be done to “neutralize the threat.” No “guy with a gun,” but “the threat.”

      1. Yes, but immediately afterwards, you think of him as “the corpse” (Okay, after you pee yourself in relief.) You don’t think “it.” Part of what betrays they thought of those poor babies as “it” is the disposal of the bodies.

      2. I think you need to make that distinction before you get into the situation. I know that my body reacts before my mind can think when I am in a dangerous situation. Plus I have learned to recognize and leave situations before they become dangerous. I don’t think about it then because split-second is very very important.

        1. You are correct. You need to practice the mindset for use in real life. But for us brains in jars here in webland, I was trying to point out the separation part of it … wait … are you NOT a brain in a jar?

      3. That’s training for what to *say* afterwards, not now you think about the person when you fire a burst to their chest then start trying to shoot their brains out.

        1. Actually when I took it it was for both. The instructor was emphatic that you acted to stop the threat, not to kill it. The reason was that a fatal wound that does not kill for 15 seconds will not stop the threat in time, while something non-fatal may.

          1. We react under stress as we react to training – the body follows the routines we establish, and the mind does what we have determined and conditioned it to do. In flight training, we go through scenarios again and again (and again and again), until we retrain instincts to different responses. And I’m here today to tell you that it works – if it hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here.

            When dealing with a brand new student, they often freeze when faced with an unfamiliar situation. Either the brain panics and stops reacting because it’s too busy going “AAAAAah! Not Right!”, or they’re sitting there going “this isn’t normal. It isn’t normal, is it? I think it’s odd. Wait, what are you going to do about it?” It’s only when you walk them through it, to recognize and deal, that they go “Oh, stall developing. lots of throttle, nose to the horizon.”

            There’s another reason to ‘dehumanize’ the attacker in a self-defense court: it’s to make them anonymous. If you train people to expect the attacker to be a big hulking man in a trenchcoat and ski mask, they won’t be watching three skinny little snot-nosed street rats as a threat until the knives are out, or decide that their crazy ex really isn’t that kind of threat, nor the nice-looking well-dressed guy who’s getting way too uncomfortably close and fake-friendly while you’re walking your dog at night on a deserted street…

          2. “Stop the threat” also prevents last-instant moral issues– calling those who are trying to kill, rape, maim, etc you is to prevent too much empathy, but the probability of someone who is a target being too aware of the humanity of their attacker.

            Not as big of a problem if your focus is “I must STOP THEM.”

            (It’s also consistent with Catholic moral teaching. 🙂 )

          3. I suspect the answer to that is that a slow-killing-but-lethal wound is unnecessarily cruel — KEEP SHOOTING.

            A friend of mine observes that serving size==bag is empty. Same applies here– rounds still in magazine == not done shooting.

            M

          4. “The reason was that a fatal wound that does not kill for 15 seconds will not stop the threat in time, while something non-fatal may.”

            Yes, the goal in self-defense should always be to STOP the attacker, the best way to accomplish this is usually lethal, but this does not mean that lethal is the best criteria to use when considering how to defend yourself.
            This is why when discussing self defense guns I advocate carrying the most powerful gun that you can comfortably shoot, and conveniently carry (capacity is also a consideration). A 22lr properly placed will kill any human on planet earth, but unless very precisely placed it will not necessarily stop them before they wound and/or kill you. A 454 Casull on the other hand does not need to be nearly so precisely place to STOP an attacker, practically any significant hit, while not necessarily lethal, will stop the attacker long enough for you to escape. But many are uncomfortable shooting such a handcannon, and it is inconvenient to carry concealed. This is why I often recommend a happy medium along the lines of a .357 Mag or 40 S&W, or if concealability is a higher consideration, a 9mm or 380, while far inferior in stopping power to the above mentioned calibers, is still far above a 22lr.

  26. The Gosnell case is one that generates so much anger and frustration in me that I can’t discuss it with any form of rationality.

    The way that so many people casually accepted what was going on is infuriating beyond my self-control.

    1. And there are people who claim it’s a glimpse back to pre-legalization days.

      No, it’s a glimpse at post-legalization days, because this was all under legal abortion.

      1. Well, in fairness, there were some pretty horrific murderers among the baby farmers.

        1. And since legalization. Jill Stanek testified to the murder of newborns after abortion in Illinois, when Illinois was passing its version of the Born-Alive Act.

          There was a state senator who argued that it was unnecessary because it didn’t happen, and anyway infringes on the doctor’s entitlement to declare the baby not viable.

          He’s in the White House now.

    2. It makes me wonder why exactly God is holding back on the “smite” key. What other horrors must take place?

        1. Lighting, fireballs, rivers of blood, plague of frogs. Say what you will about the OT God, at least he understood production value.

        2. I’ve always pictured it as fire from heaven type destruction but that’s an excellent question, I’m going to mull that over.

      1. It’s not only a single key. It’s a stop in the whole lower register — the pedals, actually. You know; trampling out the vintage…?

        1. 32′ Bombard stop, coupled to the great or solo (depending on your instrument). I’d add a couple 16′ reeds and a 32′ Bourdon, but that’s just me.

    3. I am relatively calm and articulate about this specific example because I do not see it as fundamentally different from those things I saw in the adult population that I am only now beginning to really speak up on.

      It is a logical extension to those things that I felt I would be a party to if I had intercourse inside of modern society’s mores. As I couldn’t stomach being personally party to those things…

      At the time, I did not see a big distinction between before and after birth. My big distinction was before and after development of libido. My theory was that those who waited or who were unable to form strong enduring convictions on such behavior before libido develops would thereafter have libido limit how strongly their opposed convictions could be. Or at least the influence of libido would twist their thinking or something.

      Anyway, such decisions as pro-Gosnell are in line with my expectations of many adults (humans with developed libido) across most, if not all societies. Much less ours. As I grew older, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were actually a decent amount of adults that I could find significant levels of agreement with.

  27. Two bombs just went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. This not only sickens and disgusts me, but there’s a good chance that it actually is on topic today. Is there anyone out there who seriously believes that the bomber saw the people he killed (and Fox News is reporting three fatalities) as human?

    1. I was finishing my writing article for PJM which I should have put up yesterday, but we were driving halfway across the state to get a sound booth. Amanda Green just pinged me to tell me of the bombings.

    2. There are some confusing reports– but I just heard that the police may have found a third bomb in a trashcan near another large group of people.

    3. One blogger commented, after the Israelis took care of one of someone who deserved it, that some individuals voluntarily renounce their humanity by their actions. The terrorist in question was one of those (he’d planned and organized several mass-murders in Israel and Lebanon.) That seems to be a reasonable approach.

      Before anyone jumps in and claims that “well, by his lights he was fighting a justified war against a recognized enemy, and you can’t call a freedom-fighter a terrorist,” don’t bother. You kill and maim noncombatants in the name of [cause], you are no longer human. You have numbed, if not yet excised, your soul.

        1. Plus one at the JFK library outside of Boston.

          And some media idiots (but I repeat myself) are speculating that today being the Boston city “Patriot Day” holiday or the nearness to April 19th might have something to do with the bombs.

          1. I turned off the TV talking heads and went to my radio station because I couldn’t stand the inaccuracies in the talking head’s reporting. UGH

            1. Yea– just heard the final update on the JFK library too. They said furnace fire–here… Personally I don’t think we’ll know for days..

      1. I take the attitude that these, and the serial killer, the child molester, and so on and so forth, are properly considered human by taxonomy. I think humans can and do make choices or take actions for which they can be legitimately killed, without changing the fact that they are human.

        I prefer definitions that are strict, simple, and difficult for me to talk my way around.

        I’ve mentioned this thread, that I’ve wrestled myself over, and have yet to come up with anything truly convincing, regarding pot smokers.

        I’ve also tried to convince myself that since being a communist is two counts of attempted mass murder, that killing communists is inherently self defense in of itself.

        Besides Jesus, one of the arguments that has held the line is practical. I deeply care about rule of law in the United States of America. Mechanisms which would easily, quickly, and readily dispose of those I wish gone would either be used for or set precedent for, or be something deeply dangerous, or fatal, to the Republic.

        1. I figure that some humans need to be shot like rabid dogs. You don’t hate a rabid dog, and you don’t go out of your way to be cruel – but you spare everyone the danger, and the dog the agony, by quickly, cleanly, and calmly putting a bullet through its brain.

          Doesn’t mean the dog wasn’t once a beloved pet, or the bomber once a beloved child – just means that there is now nothing left that can be saved, and only a great danger and agony snarling at you.

          As an aside, y’all seem very certain that people have souls, and wonder when people get theirs as a whole complete unit. I posit that a soul, like a life, exists as a potential, as a spark of the divine in us – so to kill a fetus is to kill a spark of the divine, whether or not the soul is fully grown. And indeed, as adults, we can still grow great-souled… or we can destroy our souls, until there is nothing left behind those eyes but a low and treacherous cunning, and an evil that fouls the very air the flesh around it breaths. And when reduced to that, it’s time to put a bullet between the eyes, because there’s nothing left to save.

            1. Nah, I leave that daunting task to you and my husband. Spares me the trouble, and frees me to spend more time with my airplane, in the garden, out in the mountains, and in physical therapy. You two stay safe and sane at the computer, and I’ll be out here making memories that’ll be funny stories after everything is paid off / passes the statute of limitations / heals, eh?

            2. Sounds a lot like RAH. (The elder.) “A man should be prepared to shoot his own dog. Farming it out doesn’t make it better; it makes it worse.”

              M

      2. You kill and maim noncombatants in the name of [cause], you are no longer human. You have numbed, if not yet excised, your soul.

        I’d say “you target noncoms,” with the understanding that not trying to avoid hitting them is included as targeting.

        Possibly even “you make non-coms into targets,” because I REALLY hate the human shield aspect.

        1. Nit, to somebody who knows military terminology, “noncoms” doesn’t mean “non-combatants”. It means non commissioned officers. [Wink]

          1. The Navy is actually where I picked up the term for non-combatants.

            While I was a noncom of the rank sort, actually…. *grin*

            I suspect that it’s kind of like the folk who get pissy about clip vs magazine.

            1. Well, I have heard about the “noncom” of the ranking sort but never heard “non-coms” meaning “non-combatants”. Mind you, I’m not going to argue much with a Navy noncom or an Army noncom. [Wink]

              1. Since I sincerely believe that a lot of military slang is designed to confuse matters, probably wise. *Grin*

                Probably helped that I don’t remember thinking of noncommisioned officers as a “half” in the Navy. Much more useful to think in terms of the officers that lead, the officers that do stuff, the Chiefs, the Petty Officers and the “E4 and below.” (Yes, E4 is petty officer third class, but depending on your rate you might get it out of bootcamp, so there’s a lot of squishy about how much it’s valued and all of the E4 and below get punished by the upper chain when some deck idiot does something painfully stupid. It’s slowly expanding to include the E5s, as of the time I got out, but that may have been just Japan.)

    4. He is human, but severely morally crippled. This is one reason I support the death penalty.

  28. ” I will choose life for humans and those animals which (living with us) partake a little of our humanity.”

    Me too. A very long time ago, I also had to choose, and I chose not to continue. That would indicate hypocrisy, though as I said it was a long time ago, and folks are allowed to change. Turns out, that was my one and only chance at producing a biologically related child, Instead I have three lovely children that my spouse and I raised from the time they were 7, 3, and 2. And they all came to us on the same day as half siblings, same mother, different fathers for each.

    I also believe it’s not my right or business to choose for others.

    When a feral cat delivered a litter on my front porch, I did what I could to assure their continued existence. Today, 17 years later, one of those kittens soaks up an inordinate amount of my meager income helping him continue to live. Yet, I rejoice when my brother-in-law sends venison jerky from a deer he’s killed on his and my sister’s ranch.

  29. I’m not sure how well reasoned this is because right now I am very angry. But it helps me to write this out.
    We as a society, a country, a people have a problem.
    It used to be we were all for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
    Now we seem to be all for Convenience, Security and the Pursuit of Momentary Pleasure.
    Richard Fernandez’s Belmont Club at PJMedia has the following article and video about Kermit Gosnell.
    http://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2013/04/14/the-house-on-the-corner/#more-28398
    The people in Philadelphia didn’t know what went on there and didn’t want to know. State offices that are supposed to monitor abortion clinics actively avoided doing their duty. For decades. Many people still don’t want to know. It is not just Philadelphia. This is going on across the country.
    One of Richard’s statements is something I have been thinking for a while about abortion. The worship of Moloch has come around again.
    Why do people kill their children? Let’s speak honestly and call things by their proper name. It is killing children. If you don’t want to acknowledge that and want to hide behind euphemisms then you do not have the courage for your convictions.
    Child sacrifice is a sacrament.
    It is an offering up of your future. An offering of all the possibilities of tomorrow, and what could be. In exchange for what? Convenience? Choice? The right to be irresponsible? Not wanting to be punished with a child?
    Killing our own children. As Richard said, ‘By this we bind ourselves to the doctrine of Moloch. “You are nothing but meat. So take this child and eat. Do this in memory of you.”’
    Maybe it is pride, or hope but I want to be more than just meat. I want to have a soul. People should love one another and cherish their children.
    Rhetorical question. Or maybe not so rhetorical.
    Are people that kill their own children, human?
    I know the answer is “Yes”, they are human, but I really wish they weren’t.

    1. “It is an offering up of your future.”
      That is your opinion, to which you are entitled. IMO, it is removing the child’s future. Your claim otherwise is nonsense. True you are changing your future, but, not giving it up.

      1. Kinda depends on the societal modeling one uses.

        Originally, the care one could expect in one’s old age essentially depending on the children one raised. Raise enough of them, healthy, productive, functional, and willing to care about you? Get what care and comfort could be managed. If you haven’t helped anyone young enough, and nobody gives a over you, linger in the cold as soon as your strength fails you.

        I think I heard somewhere three daughters or daughters-in-law.

        Now, money, if stable, can be fungible enough to buy care, if there are enough young people to buy care from. Issue is, well, young people are stronger, when you are infirm. How can you trust them not to just take the money? Kinda comes down to societal trust, whether they feel your generation has screwed over theirs, and that sorta thing.

        Building a family defaults to being of primary importance, in part because going beyond a familial trust society is not the default.

        Social Security created the impression that the government would manage all that. Well, that kinda depends. How many are in the younger cohorts? What do they care? How hungry are they? Few, little and very is not a reliable combination.

        The Boomers seem to have trusted Social Security heavily. If their narratives, the ones they have the younger cohorts study, are anything to go by, they proceeded to entirely neglect other methods of preparing for old age. Many of us in the younger cohort feel hard done by the Boomers. Maybe not those we know personally, who may be decent, productive and honorable, but all those other Boomers, who’ve made us poorer and less secure with their life choices.

        Now that Social Security seems less certain, those who are of age may distrust it. Therefore they may look to family and children for their future. That is what is meant.

        1. You have explained only that by aborting a child you have changed your future. Which is of course what I said. You have also denied the child it’s future by killing it.

          1. Neglecting a trust society and government intervention, both of which are in doubt, if you have no children, at some point your future becomes sharply limited. Someone near to that point may feel confident in describing life after that point as ‘the future’.

            1. ” if you have no children, at some point your future becomes sharply limited.”

              Possibly true, but this has nothing to do with whether one has children or not. With adequate preparation, one can be confident in continuing their chosen progress.

              ” Someone near to that point may feel confident in describing life after that point as ‘the future’.”

              This doesn’t make any sense to me. Any time subsequent to this instant is the future. This has nothing at all to do with the fact that an aborted child has no future at all.

          2. I believe he’s talking about the worship of Moloch. Not his own beliefs.

            But to address your specific gripe, my children are my future. I am immortal through them, and to a much lesser degree, my other work. If I kill them I have no future, I am a dead end, pointless, useless, no part of the history of mankind.

            People who kill their own children for convenience, are too wrapped up in themselves to _care_ about destroying the child’s future.

            1. “But to address your specific gripe, my children are my future. I am immortal through them, … If I kill them I have no future, I am a dead end, pointless, useless, no part of the history of mankind.”

              As someone who has no biological children, I guess that makes me “pointless, useless, no part of the history of mankind.” Sorry, but that’s just bullshit. I do have children, just no biological children. They are independent of me and what I’ve accomplished in this life. And that would be true if they were the fruit of my loins.

              1. Have you decided to contribute to the future in other ways? One of my sisters is in the process of adopting three children, she’ll have an influence on the future, but not a genetic one.

                1. And I should add that there are many ways to contribute to the future. But to be a part of the genetic future of mankind you must have children. It’s no guarantee. I don’t have any grandchildren, it could easily be that I won’t contribute to the genetic heritage of the future generations, either.

                    1. The genetic aspect is over-rated– it’s the raising children part that’s important.

                      These days, that’s something where you can have huge effects with 25 year olds at work, and that’s not counting that being family to those who do not have family isn’t age related at all.

                    2. As I said, if we’d managed to adopt those two little boys (other than the fact the kids would by now think of the other as their twin. I mean the older was born on ROBERT’s bday, the other was a few days off Marshal) they’d now be OURS and probably as much trouble as our sons…

                2. Well yes. I’ve been an active participant in setting standards for computer related hardware and software. I spent many months as principal author of software allowing lawyers to submit court filings electronically. Since I’ve been retired for almost 8 years, my current contributions to the future involve monthly monetary gifts to Heifer International and Habitat for Humanity.

                  But that has nothing to do with my children. I assume my children will have an influence on the future. But, what that is, is their problem. I can only make an attempt to prepare them for what their future may be. When my two boys were teenagers, I thought that influence would be negative. Now, I think it’ll be positive. I attribute that to being raised with love and caring. They both (mostly) overcame the really bad problems of having a biological mother that drank and did cocaine while pregnant.

                  I don’t really understand the need and desire some people have for biological descendants.

                  I applaud your sister. Getting three kids all at once (as I can fully attest) is a huge undertaking. Especially if they’ve been mistreated or subject to alcohol or drugs while the mother was pregnant. My youngest son was a cocaine baby and was incontinent until he was in the second grade.

      2. I did say I wasn’t sure how well reasoned this was. And I may have said it badly. What I meant was by aborting children you are offering up as your sacrifice to Moloch all of the futures your child could have had, all for the sake of your present situation. Kinda like the rampant deficit spending with the feds. To hell with the future, where’s my check! To me destroying your children’s future should be a tragic loss. Try and imagine all those lives that could have been and now never will be.

        If someone is a selfish bastard then yes, they have only changed their future because they don’t give a damn about anyone else. They have brought to an end all the futures that their parents, grandparents, and so on worked to create. From a materialistic perspective it’s the old eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. From a biological or evolutionary perspective you become nothing, a aborted evolutionary experiment and perhaps that is for the best. From a societal perspective you have contributed to the damage of society as a whole. If enough people work to damage society eventually you don’t have one. The spiritual perspective isn’t any better.

        I probably shouldn’t try and use flowery phrases like “Offering up your future.”

        1. “What I meant was by aborting children you are offering up as your sacrifice to Moloch all of the futures your child could have had, all for the sake of your present situation.”

          You and I are apparently in agreement.

          It’s not clear to me that abortion is a sacrifice. Especially since I have no idea who or what a Moloch is. What is clear is that abortion in killing an unborn child.

          1. Moloch was a god of the Mid-East region that offered up children for sacrifice (Old Testament–god of Canaanites and Phoenicians). One of the queens that married one of the Israelite kings brought the worship of Moloch to Israel.

          2. Looking things up is a good strategy for those occasions when you realize you have no idea who or what the thing referenced is. While Wikipedia is often unreliable it is unreliable in predictable ways and constitutes a reasonable starting point. Even when it is wrong on matters of fact it represents a dominant understanding.

            Adding to your knowledge? WHAT an Odd practice!

          3. Moloch at least for the Carthaginians meant Burnt Sacrifice. it was common to sacrifice the first born to ensure health and good luck for subsequent children.
            Under their shrines and holy places you find thousands upon thousands of clay jars with tiny, burnt skeletons.

  30. 1) Isn’t the question of who/what is human/has a soul a protypical SF question. I’m pretty sure there have been a number of titles on it. The issue does sort of come up in the Darkship series. (Spoiler alert- the clones. Do the mules view them as people or just body donors. Don’t remember a POV from the mules about that). Was the computer in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress “human” or not?
    2) Just had this discussion in the Doctor’s lounge at lunch. The OBs put the line at 13 weeks.The OBs also pointed out that most birth defects are spontaneously aborted. They also pointed out we routinely save babies at 20-24 weeks now. Interestingly the pro choice docs would not draw a line other than to say that the Roman scheme of allowing the pater familias to kill non married children no matter the age was too far. They could not explain how 24 weeks was any different from age 2, 5, or 18. What is human will end up being a religious/shooting war question eventually. Clone wars anyone? BTW-Abortion Docs get paid more by the facility the older the gestational age. Turns out waiving ethics does not come cheap.

      1. Sorry. FWIW I will spare everyone the price. Very few Docs will actually perform the procedure. To be a good doc you must be somewhat of a sociopath. Some just take it all the way. BTW- even the pro choice Docs would not personally do abortions.

      2. What scares me is that I don’t have that reaction.

        I’ll get nightmares, and I feel disgusted and sad… but it’s like part of me turns off when it’s too much. The Boston Marathon Bombing, same thing– I’m listening to *revises to remove actual description* some of the injuries folks suffered, and I’m trying to figure out how it was done, what kind of steps can be taken to avoid it, what the damage area was, etc.

        Maybe it’s because I dealt with the development of a creature with cows, first– I think I was about four when I first saw the “pine needle abortion” calf in the science room. Second trimester calf, it happens if a cow is starving so badly that she’ll eat pine needles. Other than a lack of hair, they’re a perfectly normal calf, small enough to fit in one of those huge pickle jars. My parents have been “preg checking” calves younger than when many accidental pregnancies figure out they’re pregnant for my entire life, and if I were tall enough I’d probably have been drafted to do it, as well.

        I should be sickened by Gosnell. Instead, I just… accept that there are monsters like that, somehow, and it kind of worries me. Not as much as the pro-abort midwife’s daughter that I know, who only didn’t kill her three kids (one while on the Pill, one in the middle of a depo shot, and one with an IUD— yes, all used properly, and the IUD failure rate is right there in the lit) because they were going to have three eventually, anyways.

        Next one dies.

        1. Human beings have a range of emotional responses, and times for emotional responses. It is often useful for humans to feel, so that they will stop and think. It is often useful for humans not to feel, so that they can exercise will and keep moving.

          There’s nothing wrong with you, Foxfier. You’ve been raised to act and plan, and it agrees with your natural tendencies. But I would hardly call you unfeeling.

          If it helps, I’m a pretty emotional person, but I find that my emotional responses tend to go away when there’s emergencies or urgent work to be done, until after the work’s done. There’s only so much the brain can take time to process, and my emotions are operatically all-consuming; so I guess they have to go. (If anything, emergencies make me cheerful, energetic, and prone to laugh.)

    1. Once you decide that some decisions are yours to make you have established what you are; anything further is merely haggling over the price.

  31. BTW- everyone who had performed abortions/helped was now anti-abortion. Also talked about souls. Those who were pro choice had never actually had to kill someone/see the end product. They just wanted to talk about “choice”. Didn’t like the logic of their positions about child support and out of wedlock births either.

    1. I grew up pro-choice. It was the late seventies. Young women in Europe were enlightened and pro choice.
      And then I had Advanced Biology in Ohio. Our teacher never said a word about being anti-abortion. I don’t know how he felt about it, in fact. HOWEVER he was blunt in what happens, what is done, what the baby can feel at various points.

      I don’t think anyone who knows about either saline or dismemberment abortions can EVER be “pro-choice” again. To me, I’ve said before that I think the absolutely worst sin, the unforgivable one, is doing something awful to someone who expects only good from you, right? To me it came down to “The baby is in there, protected, happy, in as perfect a state as humans with a body ever get. And then something horrible comes in to his paradise, raining death and pain.” Or “My baby, in me, expects good and care and nourishment from me — HOW COULD I BETRAY THAT?”

      It’s the same reason I couldn’t ever kill one of my pet cats. A feral cat, maybe, if warranted. One of my pet cats, no. even euthanasia is only practiced here when the cats are in MASSIVE pain AND would die anyway. And the two times that’s needed to be done, I’m still guilty about.

      You don’t return hurt on someone who expects kindness from you. You.Just.Don’t. EVER. Or I don’t. I couldn’t keep my personality intact if I did.

      1. Agree. That is why pro choice advocates do not want pre abortion ultrasounds. You can see that you are carrying a person, not a lump of cells.

      2. I know what you mean. We normally have several each of dogs and cats, and have for a long time, so I’ve had to euthanize many. If anything I err on the side of letting them go on too long when they deserve my help dying. I have to be very sure there is no possibility left of a life that’s not pure agony, which basically means they can no longer stand or eat or gain any relief from sheer misery. Even then, it wrecks me. I have to persuade myself that, if they could understand the possibility, they’d ask for my help letting go.

        I have had family members ask for help dying, too, and I couldn’t do it. At most I’m willing to help them get enough morphine to be comfortable, knowing that morphine will shorten the brief time they have left.

        But I did not always understand these things well. Indeed, I was a blithering idiot.

        1. Pixie cost us 3k in the last three weeks of life. (And then people wonder why we don’t have any money. And we were so broke then, too) Finally he was in constant pain, and he more or less did ask for it. I’m convinced he knew what was coming and he lay down and waited for the needle.

          DT is the one that hurts. Her jaw was fused with jaw cancer. She was in pain and she couldn’t eat. BUT she clearly also knew what was being done, and batted at the doctor’s hand twice.

          I think she thought she could beat it. I wish she could have.

          Miranda has heart disease and is on daily medication. She is painful to listen to, as she breathes. BUT they told us when death comes it will be sudden and fulminating, and also that she has less than a year — so…

          On painful to listen to — she came in the other day and I told Dan “Miranda sounds awful. She’s much worse today” to which Dan said, “She was just beating the living tar out of D’Artagnan in the hallway.” Which means… she’s still enjoying life.

      3. My wife and I have a friend. It’s the woman who introduced us, in fact.

        On every other issue you could identify, she’s a standard-issue American leftie. Very frustrating, that. But when she was in medical school, she had to assist in an abortion. Once.

        Pro-life, ever since. Firmly and unshakeably.

  32. In Grumbles From the Grave Heinlein recounted borrowing a pistol from a friend in order to put down a feral cat who was attacking and tormenting his own pet feline. To his credit he identified what was needed and did the deed himself rather than farm it out to others.
    As for the whole Gosnell thing, I’m having a hard time not believing that he has by his conscious decisions and actions renounced any right he once had to membership in the human race. But then again I feel the same about whoever set those bombs in Boston, or anyone else who chooses to carry out terrorist acts against innocents.

  33. * Isn’t it kind of interesting that many Vegans are also “pro-choice”?

    * “”” My friend Kate is very afraid that if abortion is made illegal there will be a period police making sure that if you missed a period…There wasn’t because it’s physically impossible. Even in a dystopian future, where a probe is inserted in each woman to notify you if she has bled, it would be impossible to correlate all the data and for human agents to take notice. (Now if law enforcement is all done by robots it can be done.) And the “mother’s bad behavior” thing is sort of like “hate crime” – persecutors will do that.”””

    Toilets can be built with REALLY sensitive hormone/chemical sensors. Networks, databases etc. This would allow the tracking of a LOT of things.

    * Laws rarely change deep seated behavior in a society (putting on seatbelts is not what I’m talking about here). If you want to change behaviors getting a law passed will not work. Changing society works. Want less abortions:
    1) Start celebrating marriages not weddings.
    2) Start looking down on folks who divorce for convenience or self actualization when it involves children.
    3) Start celebrating fatherhood as much as we do motherhood.
    4) Get porn out of everyday culture–the difference between a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and a porn star is about 1 square foot of fabric. Sometimes. Sometimes the porn stars have more clothes on. This is not a call to get rid of porn, that ain’t going to happen, but it SHOULD be something that is kept in the back room and slightly shameful.
    5) (or 4a) Stop sexualizing childhood. And by that I mean from 6 year olds being taught to dance like temple whores 10 year olds going to school dressed like street walkers and highschool kid wearing bondage gear to class[1]. Yes, 13+ year olds are interested in sex, and are probably going to try to have it. They’re also interested in pot, alcohol and jumping off the roof.

    These are the biggest things that cause “unwanted” pregnancies. The issue of rape and incest is a distraction–the number of pregnancies resulting from rape and incest that the mother wants to abort are basically noise in the rest of the statistics.

    Change the culture and the law becomes irrelevant.

    [1] I spent over 20 years in the New Wave/Punk/Goth sub-culture. I *get* that some people wrap their sexuality up in their life, and some times it’s HELLA sexy. Children should be discouraged from doing this.

  34. One thing fascinates me about adoption, and it was inspired by Ken at Popehat today.

    I find it fascinating that man or woman can adopt a child utterly foreign to his or her family, genome, tribe or any other affiliation and love that child so fiercely. I admit it baffles me in no small way.

    1. You know the first thing that came to my mind?

      Cats. Dogs. The never ending stream of baby birds and mice that my sister brought to me to save when we were little. A burn victim pig. (yes, really, a heatlamp fell on him and we happened to drive up just as the poor SOB farm hand was taking the little guy out to “take care of,” and mom saved him by taking the piglet) Uncounted numbers of motherless calves and sheep.

      Compared to a cat, any human is pretty easy to love.

      1. (before someone takes offense at the last line, that’s from someone who is regularly guilted into letting her resident psychopaths sleep on her bed, even though they always wake her up at least once and she needs her sleep; I’m just very aware that the only reason we can have the relationship we do is because I’m at least five times bigger than they are, and if it were reversed I’d be lunch)

          1. Sano has a twin!?!!? (My mom calls him “the rug.” I claim he’s just a very active stuffed animal. That said, he has killed a mouse– we think he drooled it to death on accident because it smelled like food.)

            1. Oh, yes. Havey is a turkish van. Large, fuzzy, soft. He once got out and I realized he wasn’t in the house while I was in bed (no, there’s no explanation for this, I just KNEW. The guys thought I was crazy. We still don’t know HOW he got out.) Anyway, I was looking without my glasses, looked across the street and said “either someone has thrown out a pillow, or that’s Havey on the sidewalk.” It was Havey. Since then, his nickname is “pillow”. He plays with miller moths when they get in, but when he kills them, he brings them to me and demands I make them work again. I think he thinks they’re a toy!

        1. I won’t take offense. I’m cat people but mainly because I’m just as much of a psychopath as cats are.

          You know how you wake up in the morning and the cat is on the end of the bed looking at you with that: “When he dies, I’m getting a knife and fork from the kitchen …” look on their face? I’m on to them, that’s all I will say.

    2. Outgroup alturism is known in many species and it varies a lot in humans depending on genetics and nurture.

      Some people can, other can’t

  35. I wrote this essay last year on clones and human dignity. It’s based, somewhat, on a book called _Illegal Beings: Human Clones and the Law_ by Kerry Lynn Macintosh.

    To quote myself:
    “That last is a legitimate concern. Will we ignore the dignity of human beings born through cloning? Will we treat the people created in a lab as property? Will they be another class of slaves? Will we view them as spare parts for their progenitors?
    Unfortunately, trying to make human clones illegal doesn’t solve any of these problems, it reinforces them. The lines are not blurred, they are very clear. In fact, the only human clones we allow today are property. The only human clones we allow are lab materials.”

    1. I think if we make cloning illegal, we WILL get the horror show of effects. Because it will go under ground. If you keep it in the open, we’ll get it as an infertility treatment, extreme but not awful.

    2. Unfortunately, trying to make human clones illegal doesn’t solve any of these problems, it reinforces them. The lines are not blurred, they are very clear. In fact, the only human clones we allow today are property. The only human clones we allow are lab materials.”

      Human clones should be illegal because it’s experimenting on humans.
      The “blurring” is in the irrational treatment of the property-humans as non-humans.

  36. When I first got the book in the mail (and hadn’t read it yet) I made this comment on my blog.

    “What I have learned from science fiction, as the meta-discussion of human cloning has evolved over a couple of generations from speculation about monsters to non-human status for clones to a present consensus that a clone is a person, is that when it all goes bad it is invariably because viable clumps of human DNA are not given human status.”

    I don’t know if anyone else has brought up cloning yet (because I need to go back and read the comments) but I figure it’s the same issue involved as with abortion of which humans count and which humans don’t count.

  37. I can’t really say that I’ve ever been pro-abortion, but in the last few months when some have come out in favor of post birth abortions and hearing about Gosnell I’ve changed my mind. For some ‘people’ I’m very much in favor of late post birth abortions. I won’t say anymore because I might upset some more delicate souls, but it’d be a lot more painful than ‘snipping’ their spinal columns I’m sure.

    1. I know of at least one person I use to argue abortion with who became pro-life because of Gosnel; her assumption was that abortion was sub-optimum, but if it were illegal it would result in horrific abuses and the massive number of extra very-young-human deaths by legalizing it were a sad but valid trade-off.
      As the “make it legal, it’s safer” route as shown to not be true– and she looked around enough to find out nothing he did was that extreme, just finding it all in one place was dramatic— she became pro-life.

      Not exactly the sort of conversion story I might prefer, but a satisfactory prudential decision….

  38. I see that the regulars of this site have already answered the posed question in a myriad of ways moral, ethical, legal, social, political, and so forth. That’s why I love you guys, you have a discourse that I can rarely find elsewhere on the ‘net. (Give me carp-flinging over crap-flinging any day)

    Regarding the topic, epistemologically speaking, I hope that we never do find the answer. Forget eldritch abominations, or genetic tinkering, the answer to the question “what is human?” is that which man was never meant to know. As history has plainly shown us, every time someone posits an answer, there will eventually come those who not only accept said answer, but will gladly enforce it. I believe that we, as a species, are not yet ready for whatever the truth may be. Until that time, I think that there should remain a seed of doubt; one that might help us better judge our actions.

    If we quantify our humanity, we run the risk of losing it altogether.

    1. You are all too right. Attempts to quantify humanity always end up badly. Whether it’s “One must have less than one-quarter Jewish blood to be human and we can kill anyone who does not” or “Only Christians are really human, so we can enslave the pagan Africans” it alsways goes wrong.

  39. FIrst, I think we need to detach “Human” from “Homo Sapiens”. They aren’t, and have never been identical. Homo Neanderthal and Homo Denismovna were probably just as “Human” as wel are, though they were genetically different, and we will (we hope) meet other intelligent life forms which we will be able to call “Human” which may have more or less than two legs, two arms, two eyes, one head, one body, wings, etc.

    Human should be a definition for an intelligent being, which is recognized in law as having certain inalienable rights, even if those rights are only those of a child (our cousins, the Great Apes, could fall under that definition).

    Second, I’ll admit to not understanding American Law. It very much seems a “free for all” in many ways. Abortion is legal in Canada. The law will never be changed, all five parties in Parliament are in agreement on that.

    Inspections of Health Care clinics are mandatory, and unannounced. Any clinic which had issues like the ones reported in the American papers (note that I don’t trust American reporting, you can read three different papers and get three wildly different stories of the same events by reporters which were ALL IN THE SAME ROOM) would have the clinic shut down. It has happened. It’s part of the reason that Health Care costs here are lower. The system is well policed, and this keeps the law breakers out, mostly.

    Some still do sneak on, we’ve had cases where gynecologists were caught caming their patients. They lost their licenses.

    Personally I don’t like abortion, but I have no right to force anyone to agree with my opinion. Even if I did have that right, I wouldn’t exercise it, I’m a Libertarian, and I can’t make that choice for them. Advise them, yes. Make the choice for them, no.

    Wayne

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