A Missed Pro-Life Argument: Addressing Ambivalence

 

People on both sides of the polarized arguments surrounding abortion try to portray the discussion as clear-cut: you are either for abortion or against it. Even those pollsters and organizations that make an effort to clear up the muddiness do a pretty poor job of it. Most people are uncomfortable with the lack of clarity in these discussions, and might want to resolve the conflict they often personally experience regarding it. Unfortunately, they think one way to feel less conflicted is to avoid the discussion completely. So the conflict goes “underground” and manifests in ugly protests and eventually violence.

Instead of wallowing in the muddiness of abortion, I’m proposing a different way to move to an intelligent and compassionate approach. I was surprised to learn that many people, particularly on the pro-abortion side, experience ambivalence toward the topic, for a myriad of reasons; that experience influences their conclusions (or the lack of them). If we look at the role of ambivalence regarding people’s opinions of abortion, it not only explains the multiple positions that are becoming obvious, but also suggests ways to help people come closer to resolving their values, their stances, and their decision-making regarding the changes that will be coming in the abortion laws.

Even the most credible and ethical pollster has a hard time knowing how to ask questions about abortion, and how to evaluate responses, and overcome the ambivalence of respondents:

The political fallout from the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade remains to be seen. But while public opinion polls offer some sense of what Americans think about abortion, the data is murkier and more contradictory than either supporters and opponents of abortion rights tend to admit.

Partly, that’s because views on abortion are intensely personal. Complicating matters further, these views may be tallied differently depending on how the pollster asks the question.

‘There is ample evidence that many people are ambivalent about the issue or experience significant cross-pressures in formulating an opinion,’ Scott Keeter, a senior survey advisor to the Pew Research Center, told PolitiFact in May. ‘These realities make it quite difficult to sum up abortion attitudes in one or two sentences or with one or two questions.’

Survey statistics also can’t overcome the complex responses of those surveyed:

Ultimately, analyzing abortion-related poll questions is tricky because people are honestly conflicted about their views on abortion. Views on abortion are ‘complicated or ambivalent,” said Bowman, the polling analyst at the American Enterprise Institute.

A team of University of Notre Dame researchers conducted 217 in-depth interviews with Americans across six states in 2019. “Abortion attitudes are more complex than survey statistics suggest,’ they concluded. ‘Survey summaries can be misleading and should be interpreted with caution.’

Often, the researchers found, ‘surveys miss the ways that Americans offer disclaimers and caveats, contradict themselves, hedge their responses, change their minds, and think through things in real time. Most Americans, moreover, do not hold bipolar views toward abortion but multidimensional ones.’

These observations suggest that ambivalence toward abortion may play a significant role in people’s attitudes about the topic. That conclusion suggests that people may be subject to being influenced to clarify their understanding, in an environment that presents reasonable data and information that they have not received in the past.

Since the dialogue about abortion has been dominated by the pro-choice community, key data has been left out of that exchange. A number of opportunities to receive a more balanced understanding of the abortion process could be critical in forming not only people’s opinions about abortion, but also assisting them in their decisions about whether to have an abortion or not. Here are a number of approaches that the pro-life movement should be utilizing to provide information.

Although over the last several years, abortion numbers have gone down, the reasons are unclear :

It is becoming common to observe that we really don’t have a solid grasp of what Americans think about abortion, nor of any trends. Pro-life education is important – how many of us would be pro-life without it? – but not because we can see that it’s changing public opinion as a whole. A local pregnancy medical center director told me that they still commonly hear women say, as they look at their unborn children on the ultrasound screen, ‘I had no idea.

The pro-life movement needs to do a better job of determining what types of data distribution influences women who are considering abortion:

We continue to need public education, academic debate, legal engagement, lobbying, and even protest, whether these demonstrably affect abortion numbers or not. If it can be shown, however, that pregnancy help is driving abortion ratios lower, then we should direct greater resources to the increase of the number of these centers, and to making all of the centers better known in their communities through advertising.

Since state legislatures will now be determining the law on abortion in their respective states, lawmakers might benefit from receiving these data as well, including ultrasound images. They may also want to make available information on resources that pregnant women may use, preferably from the non-profit sector. Counseling, child care, and other kinds of assistance would make the prospect of motherhood less daunting and more positive.

The ambivalence about abortion is not limited to the prospective mother, but also affects the important people in her life. Friends and family may also feel torn about the role they can or should play regarding a person close to them, based on their own values, beliefs about abortion, and if and how they might help. A group of researchers examined both data from the 2018 General Social Survey (GSS), which measures public opinion on a range of concerns, and 74 of 217 in-depth interviews from the National Abortion Attitudes Study:

The interviews, conducted in 2019 in different regions around the U.S., show how Americans who engage in discordant benevolence* make sense of it for themselves. Three logics dominate: one, a view that friends or family members are worthy of help despite imperfections; two, that friends and family constitute an exception precisely because they are friends/family; and three, that friends or family members make independent moral decisions . . .

‘When it comes to abortion,’ says co-author Bruce, ‘greater levels of help amplify feelings of inner conflict for Americans who are morally opposed. We found that many will still help friends and family, but moderate how much and why.’

The pro-life movement could help people who may want to provide assistance in sorting through their options to help people who want to take their babies to term.

*     *     *

There is no doubt that the challenge will be great in meeting not only the pro-choice movement in a non-threatening way, but also to reach those who may be open to considering life instead of abortion. Those for life must take a less celebratory approach to their victory, or they will be seen as relishing the defeat of those who support abortion. They must meet those who are willing to listen to them with tact, compassion, and objectivity, and be willing to acknowledge to themselves that every effort they make to persuade others of their ideas for life may not be successful. They must be willing to empathize with the fear, the pain, and the incriminations that will be made against those who choose life. They need to assume that it will be a battle of long duration, with twists and turns, as the states navigate the labyrinth of ideas they will face. The intensity of the ambivalence that each person faces will be unique to each individual.

We must empathize.

We must be patient.

We must persevere.

*Discordant benevolence is the experience of a person who experiences inner conflict over assisting a pregnant woman.

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  1. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    A very thoughtful post, Susan. It’s natural to spike the ball when the other side looks like it’s made up of angry people bellowing into bullhorns. But in the end, the decisive arena is going to be normal human beings grappling with their mixed opinions and feelings. Those people need more of a person-to-person persuasive response. 

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    A very thoughtful post, Susan. It’s natural to spike the ball when the other side looks like it’s made up of angry people bellowing into bullhorns. But in the end, the decisive arena is going to be normal human beings grappling with their mixed opinions and feelings. Those people need more of a person-to-person persuasive response.

    Thanks, Gary. We tend to look at the fringes on both sides, mainly because they are the loudest, but there are lots of people struggling in the middle (I think). They are the ones who need the support.

    • #2
  3. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    A sensitive, thoughtful and information post, as usual from you, Susan. Thanks!

    • #3
  4. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    My biggest worry is that some conservative legislators will look at this great victory as a green light for an absolute ban on abortion for any reason at any time.  If we do that, we’ll lose a lot of support from the middle who want it “safe, legal, and rare,” but realize the Dems failed to deliver on that promise and took it to the extreme – abortion any time for any reason, even after birth (which truly is murder).  If we take it to the extreme in the other direction (no abortion for any reason), smart Democrats might be able to use that to get back into power.  This would pave the way for the extremists in the other direction to regain a foothold in state legislatures . . .

    • #4
  5. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Agree with everything you said – including giving real stats to states to be able to funnel resources where needed.  I wonder how long this info has been available and not used?  Naomi Wolf – a former liberal and still a feminist to some degree – wrote a heartfelt piece and cited the many very young women – including teens – in these stats, as in too many pregnant young girls.  Are they not using birth control or is it not available? So many politicians and presidents in the past have said that abortion should be safe, legal and rare.  Yet it’s been safe, legal and a means of birth control.

    https://naomiwolf.substack.com/p/on-losing-roe

    If you read her past stories on this issue, as the decades progressed, so did she in the other direction.  This is a great opportunity to open many dialogues for better outcomes going forward as you said.  That is a starting point – and one that wasn’t being considered before this momentous decision.

    • #5
  6. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    I don’t know. There’s always a mushy middle on every issue. Abortion strikes me as an issue where there is a sharp and clear divide. It’s just a more emotional and polarizing issue than others. And there’s very little room to compromise. You’re either for it or against it. It should be made clear. The SCOTUS decision the other day did not ban abortion. It returned the issue to where it rightly belongs, the states. 

    • #6
  7. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Manny (View Comment):
    And there’s very little room to compromise. You’re either for it or against it. It should be made clear.

    Wrong.  I, for one, am in the uncomfortable middle. FWIW, here is the outline of my stance:

    • I am not religious, and I don’t recognize moralizing arguments re abortion founded in any particular religion. I also think the country is past the point where a religious based argument will carry the day, it’s instead more likely to cause blowback.
    • Nonetheless, there needs to be some recognizable combination of ethics and pragmatism, that is reasonably likely to stand the test of time in the face of political, social and technological change.
    • I personally believe the cutoff date for abortion without evidence of grave harm to the mother should be at the point of higher brain function, which is what distinguishes a potential human from an animal. (So I’m already outside the all-or-nothing set.)
    • However, I don’t found my argument for a public solution on that personal belief, instead I’m basing it on pragmatism, specifically in what rationale is likely to survive technological and market challenges.
    • Current technology allows a fetus to be taken to term outside the womb for almost the entire third trimester. Killing it rather than extracting it in that case I find hard to distinguish from murder. I think that’s an argument that will largely resonate for anyone who’s not an absolutist for abortion to the point of birth.
    • On the other hand, abortifacients, e.g., ‘Plan B’ are readily available and that genie is not going back in the bottle. Trying to outlaw abortions during the period when they are effective would lead to an even more tragic drug war, with second order effects that would likely include the creation of even more powerful and easily concealable abortion doses. I think that’s also a reality that can be recognized by those who are not religious absolutists against abortion of any kind.
    • And finally, the whole issue arises tragically because people literally f*** up.  While there are accidents out there, the majority find themselves in a morally compromised position due to incompetence or indifference. It’d be nice if that could be an issue that both sides would cooperate to improve, but I’m not holding my breath.

    I will probably, as usual, take incoming from both sides. C’est la vie.

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Locke On (View Comment):
    And finally, the whole issue arises tragically because people literally f*** up.  While there are accidents out there, the majority find themselves in a morally compromised position due to incompetence or indifference. It’d be nice if that could be an issue that both sides would cooperate to improve, but I’m not holding my breath.

    LockeOn, thanks so much for weighing in. Yours is a thoughtful and reasonable argument, in spite of those who will disagree with you. 

    • #8
  9. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    The good news is that the conversation is starting—loudly, of course, and hysterically, as people accustomed to not really having to think about something uncomfortable and icky are being forced to do so. And not just by irritatingly contradictory people like me, but by the circumstance itself: The laws are going to have to be made. What do we want the laws to say?

    In my conversations, I find that pro-abortion people are seldom genuinely “abortion on demand through all nine months.” They mostly want the safe, legal and rare thing, and also for the whole thing to magically become a non-issue because of sex education, tolerance, abundant birth control and the usual blah blah.

    To some pro-choice colleagues I offered…Ireland Baldwin. 

     Forget, for a moment, that this is Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger’s daughter and, of course, unusually pretty and privileged.  Or maybe don’t forget these things. She isn’t poor. She wasn’t raped. She isn’t an ill-educated inner-city teenager. She had healthcare. She could pretty much count on a decent income.  This is a snapshot—publicly displayed— from the life of an unusually lucky young American woman circa 2022.  “Alec Baldwin’s 26-year-old daughter Ireland Baldwin is opening up about her abortion following the overturning of Roe v. Wade last week. 
    The model posted a TikTok video Sunday explaining how she got pregnant while she was in a “very unhappy” relationship, Page Six reported.

    He made it clear that he never wanted kids or marriage,” she said of her ex. “He barely wanted to be in a serious relationship.
    “I chose to get an abortion because I know exactly what it felt like to be born between two people who hated each other,” Baldwin continued, referencing her father’s marriage to Ireland’s mother Kim Basinger.

    “Could I have had that baby and put that baby up for adoption? Maybe. Maybe not,” Ireland continued. “But choosing to raise a baby without my own financial security, without a loving and supportive partner, that wasn’t gonna work for me.”
    I chose me, and I would choose me again. It’s your life, it’s your choice,” the model concluded.”
     What is wrong with this picture? Why is this   young woman —who has everything—living this way?  Why did privileged females—by the evidence—have the self-confidence and self-esteem to refuse sex (let alone shacking up) to caddish men circa 1964…and lack it now?   In 1964, most of what pro-choice persons describe as essential to the end of abortion was absent—comprehensive and dispassionate sex ed, widely available birth control, guaranteed income for mothers and children. And yet, there were fewer abortions and fewer illegitimate births fifty years ago than there are now. And no privileged, educated young woman would have dreamed of putting out for a young man who “made it clear he never wanted kids or marriage.”  Nor—to flog my usual dead horse—would the son of the president of the United States be able to get away with impregnating a woman (between trysts with his dead brother’s widow) and abandoning his daughter, while the president himself ignores  and effectively disowns his granddaughter. On what possible basis, given these very public, very high-status examples of how women may be treated,  would females demand better for themselves than what Ireland chose? That guy…and that all-but-inevitable abortion. “I chose me,” says Ireland Baldwin, of her abortion—how incredibly pathetic. God, I hope the world has changed by the time my granddaughters are old enough to be paying attention.

     

     

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    The good news is that the conversation is starting—loudly, of course, and hysterically, as people accustomed to not really having to think about something uncomfortable and icky are being forced to do so. And not just by irritatingly contradictory people like me, but by the circumstance itself: The laws are going to have to be made. What do we want the laws to say?

    In my conversations, I find that pro-abortion people are seldom genuinely “abortion on demand through all nine months.” They mostly want the safe, legal and rare thing, and also for the whole thing to magically become a non-issue because of sex education, tolerance, abundant birth control and the usual blah blah.

    To some pro-choice colleagues I offered…Ireland Baldwin.

    Forget, for a moment, that this is Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger’s daughter and, of course, unusually pretty and privileged. Or maybe don’t forget these things. She isn’t poor. She wasn’t raped. She isn’t an ill-educated inner-city teenager. She had healthcare. She could pretty much count on a decent income. This is a snapshot—publicly displayed— from the life of an unusually lucky young American woman circa 2022. “Alec Baldwin’s 26-year-old daughter Ireland Baldwin is opening up about her abortion following the overturning of Roe v. Wade last week.
    The model posted a TikTok video Sunday explaining how she got pregnant while she was in a “very unhappy” relationship, Page Six reported.

    He made it clear that he never wanted kids or marriage,” she said of her ex. “He barely wanted to be in a serious relationship.
    “I chose to get an abortion because I know exactly what it felt like to be born between two people who hated each other,” Baldwin continued, referencing her father’s marriage to Ireland’s mother Kim Basinger.

    “Could I have had that baby and put that baby up for adoption? Maybe. Maybe not,” Ireland continued. “But choosing to raise a baby without my own financial security, without a loving and supportive partner, that wasn’t gonna work for me.”
    I chose me, and I would choose me again. It’s your life, it’s your choice,” the model concluded.”
    What is wrong with this picture? Why is this young woman —who has everything—living this way? Why did privileged females—by the evidence—have the self-confidence and self-esteem to refuse sex (let alone shacking up) to caddish men circa 1964…and lack it now? In 1964, most of what pro-choice persons describe as essential to the end of abortion was absent—comprehensive and dispassionate sex ed, widely available birth control, guaranteed income for mothers and children. And yet, there were fewer abortions and fewer illegitimate births fifty years ago than there are now. And no privileged, educated young woman would have dreamed of putting out for a young man who “made it clear he never wanted kids or marriage.” Nor—to flog my usual dead horse—would the son of the president of the United States be able to get away with impregnating a woman (between trysts with his dead brother’s widow) and abandoning his daughter, while the president himself ignores and effectively disowns his granddaughter. On what possible basis, given these very public, very high-status examples of how women may be treated, would females demand better for themselves than what Ireland chose? That guy…and that all-but-inevitable abortion. “I chose me,” says Ireland Baldwin, of her abortion—how incredibly pathetic. God, I hope the world has changed by the time my granddaughters are old enough to be paying attention.

     

     

    We stopped raising ladies and gentlemen. Or rather, we don’t value such. There have always been cads. Poor Ireland was not raised to know how to (not) deal with such.

    • #10
  11. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Even radically pro abortion folks will now have to come to grips with the issue as every  state has to make decisions.  The issue, like all modern Democrat party issues is about centralizing power but that no longer works on this issue so anyone who actually cares about abortion has to work in their state.  I don’t think most actually care strongly and the debate will conform more or less as you discuss it,  rationally and sensibly, sate by state.  Radicals will try to use it as they have in the past to centralize all power in Washington, but some people actually care about the issue and are willing to deal with it rationally.    They will be divided.  Moreover, the strongly pro abortion folks are fundamentally racist, so it devides blacks as well.  A great decision for the Republic. 

    • #11
  12. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):
    And there’s very little room to compromise. You’re either for it or against it. It should be made clear.

    Wrong. I, for one, am in the uncomfortable middle. FWIW, here is the outline of my stance:

    • I am not religious, and I don’t recognize moralizing arguments re abortion founded in any particular religion. I also think the country is past the point where a religious based argument will carry the day, it’s instead more likely to cause blowback.
    • Nonetheless, there needs to be some recognizable combination of ethics and pragmatism, that is reasonably likely to stand the test of time in the face of political, social and technological change.
    • I personally believe the cutoff date for abortion without evidence of grave harm to the mother should be at the point of higher brain function, which is what distinguishes a potential human from an animal. (So I’m already outside the all-or-nothing set.)
    • However, I don’t found my argument for a public solution on that personal belief, instead I’m basing it on pragmatism, specifically in what rationale is likely to survive technological and market challenges.
    • Current technology allows a fetus to be taken to term outside the womb for almost the entire third trimester. Killing it rather than extracting it in that case I find hard to distinguish from murder. I think that’s an argument that will largely resonate for anyone who’s not an absolutist for abortion to the point of birth.
    • On the other hand, abortifacients, e.g., ‘Plan B’ are readily available and that genie is not going back in the bottle. Trying to outlaw abortions during the period when they are effective would lead to an even more tragic drug war, with second order effects that would likely include the creation of even more powerful and easily concealable abortion doses. I think that’s also a reality that can be recognized by those who are not religious absolutists against abortion of any kind.
    • And finally, the whole issue arises tragically because people literally f*** up. While there are accidents out there, the majority find themselves in a morally compromised position due to incompetence or indifference. It’d be nice if that could be an issue that both sides would cooperate to improve, but I’m not holding my breath.

    I will probably, as usual, take incoming from both sides. C’est la vie.

    No you’re wrong.  You are objectively killing a human being no matter what stage in their life, whether it be one second after fertilization or one trimester or at birth at at two years old or forty years old or 100 years old.  That is the objective criteria.  To kill a human being is morally unethical at any stage.  If you don’t want a moral criteria, then you’re a liberal, playing God at will with life and death depending on your utility.

    • #12
  13. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Locke On (View Comment):
    I personally believe the cutoff date for abortion without evidence of grave harm to the mother should be at the point of higher brain function, which is what distinguishes a potential human from an animal. (So I’m already outside the all-or-nothing set.)

    Ha!.  That’s like five years old.  That is the liberal criteria, sentience.  What you are arguing for is infanticide, just like Pete Singer and the radical leftist “ethicists” and filtered down to college students arguing to kill two year olds.  

    This is the perfect example of why conservatism is not conservative unless it be linked to Judeo-Christian morality.  You can’t have conservatism without God.

    • #13
  14. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):
    And finally, the whole issue arises tragically because people literally f*** up. While there are accidents out there, the majority find themselves in a morally compromised position due to incompetence or indifference. It’d be nice if that could be an issue that both sides would cooperate to improve, but I’m not holding my breath.

    LockeOn, thanks so much for weighing in. Yours is a thoughtful and reasonable argument, in spite of those who will disagree with you.

    Frankly it’s far from reasonable.  It has absolutely no moral standing.

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    One of the factors that all of us might consider is that for the foreseeable future, state law will be a mixed bag. These questions will likely be debated, even in those states that have set up trigger laws or banned all abortion. We will need to decide how we will approach others who don’t agree with us, because if we ultimately want to get others to stop abortion who are pro-choice, attacking or insulting them will not be the way to do it. We may feel that we are righteous in doing so, but it won’t move the ball forward.

    • #15
  16. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Manny (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):
    And there’s very little room to compromise. You’re either for it or against it. It should be made clear.

    Wrong. I, for one, am in the uncomfortable middle. FWIW, here is the outline of my stance:

    • I am not religious, and I don’t recognize moralizing arguments re abortion founded in any particular religion. I also think the country is past the point where a religious based argument will carry the day, it’s instead more likely to cause blowback.
    • Nonetheless, there needs to be some recognizable combination of ethics and pragmatism, that is reasonably likely to stand the test of time in the face of political, social and technological change.
    • I personally believe the cutoff date for abortion without evidence of grave harm to the mother should be at the point of higher brain function, which is what distinguishes a potential human from an animal. (So I’m already outside the all-or-nothing set.)
    • …..
    • And finally, the whole issue arises tragically because people literally f*** up. While there are accidents out there, the majority find themselves in a morally compromised position due to incompetence or indifference. It’d be nice if that could be an issue that both sides would cooperate to improve, but I’m not holding my breath.

    I will probably, as usual, take incoming from both sides. C’est la vie.

    No you’re wrong. You are objectively killing a human being no matter what stage in their life, whether it be one second after fertilization or one trimester or at birth at at two years old or forty years old or 100 years old. That is the objective criteria. To kill a human being is morally unethical at any stage. If you don’t want a moral criteria, then you’re a liberal, playing God at will with life and death depending on your utility.

    You made an absolute statement that there was no one in the middle of the question. All that’s required to refute that statement is one person who is. I provided that example.

    What’s really going on is you believe there is no middle ground. It would be better to state that honestly.

    Your actual statement of position is what I referred to as religious absolutism, and is an example of what I think will not only not win the day in public opinion, but will probably have negative results.

    ETA: I should have more clearly said “the onset of higher brain function” which is somewhere in the second trimester, depending on who you believe and exactly what your milestone. Saying I support infanticide is a grotesque and deliberate distortion given my other points.

    • #16
  17. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Locke On (View Comment):
    Your actual statement of position is what I referred to as religious absolutism, and is an example of what I think will not only not win the day in public opinion, but will probably have negative results.

    No, it’s not religious absolutism.  It’s scientific absolutism.  A human being is a human being at any stage after fertilization.  That’s the objective criteria.  Everything else is arbitrary for convenience.

    • #17
  18. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    Manny (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):
    And there’s very little room to compromise. You’re either for it or against it. It should be made clear.

    Wrong. I, for one, am in the uncomfortable middle. FWIW, here is the outline of my stance:

    • I am not religious, and I don’t recognize moralizing arguments re abortion founded in any particular religion. I also think the country is past the point where a religious based argument will carry the day, it’s instead more likely to cause blowback.
    • Nonetheless, there needs to be some recognizable combination of ethics and pragmatism, that is reasonably likely to stand the test of time in the face of political, social and technological change.
    • I personally believe the cutoff date for abortion without evidence of grave harm to the mother should be at the point of higher brain function, which is what distinguishes a potential human from an animal. (So I’m already outside the all-or-nothing set.)

    I will probably, as usual, take incoming from both sides. C’est la vie.

    No you’re wrong. You are objectively killing a human being no matter what stage in their life, whether it be one second after fertilization or one trimester or at birth at at two years old or forty years old or 100 years old. That is the objective criteria. To kill a human being is morally unethical at any stage. If you don’t want a moral criteria, then you’re a liberal, playing God at will with life and death depending on your utility.

    Definitively.  Evaluation of human worth and subsequent killability is not a matter of individual estimation.  Either it is human, and individual, and living, or it is not.  Once we start saying that a human life is not old enough to be of worth, or thoughtful enough to be of worth.  Then all killing of innocent life is reasonable.

    A newly fertilized egg will mature into if all goes well and according to nature’s plan a 70 or 80 or 90 or 100-year-old man or woman.  We don’t have the right to say one person is worth this existence and another is not.

    • #18
  19. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):
    And there’s very little room to compromise. You’re either for it or against it. It should be made clear.

    Wrong. I, for one, am in the uncomfortable middle. FWIW, here is the outline of my stance:

    • I am not religious, and I don’t recognize moralizing arguments re abortion founded in any particular religion. I also think the country is past the point where a religious based argument will carry the day, it’s instead more likely to cause blowback.
    • Nonetheless, there needs to be some recognizable combination of ethics and pragmatism, that is reasonably likely to stand the test of time in the face of political, social and technological change.
    • I personally believe the cutoff date for abortion without evidence of grave harm to the mother should be at the point of higher brain function, which is what distinguishes a potential human from an animal. (So I’m already outside the all-or-nothing set.)

    I will probably, as usual, take incoming from both sides. C’est la vie.

    No you’re wrong. You are objectively killing a human being no matter what stage in their life, whether it be one second after fertilization or one trimester or at birth at at two years old or forty years old or 100 years old. That is the objective criteria. To kill a human being is morally unethical at any stage. If you don’t want a moral criteria, then you’re a liberal, playing God at will with life and death depending on your utility.

    Definitively. Evaluation of human worth and subsequent killability is not a matter of individual estimation. Either it is human, and individual, and living, or it is not. Once we start saying that a human life is not old enough to be of worth, or thoughtful enough to be of worth. Then all killing of innocent life is reasonable.

    A newly fertilized egg will mature into if all goes well and according to nature’s plan a 70 or 80 or 90 or 100-year-old man or woman. We don’t have the right to say one person is worth this existence and another is not.

    Thank you. No argument can sustain philosophic inconsistency. That’s why the Liberals changed their criteria from “it’s not human” to sentience as to when to allow abortion. They lost the argument that it’s not human. 

    By the way, the “it’s not human” argument was the same argument used to justify slavery of blacks. It was no longer sustainable once you had objective facts. 

    • #19
  20. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    Manny (View Comment):

    I don’t know. There’s always a mushy middle on every issue. Abortion strikes me as an issue where there is a sharp and clear divide. It’s just a more emotional and polarizing issue than others. And there’s very little room to compromise. You’re either for it or against it. It should be made clear. The SCOTUS decision the other day did not ban abortion. It returned the issue to where it rightly belongs, the states.

    Actually, I believe there are some variations that suggest a middle ground, albeit a middle ground that would be totally unsatisfactory to anyone who believes that life begins at conception.

    For example, a majority of Americans believe that abortion (at an early stage) is acceptable in cases of rape, incest, and saving the life of the mother. Many also believe that abortion is acceptable (at some point) when the baby will be born with down syndrome or some other genetic deformity.

    In my state, Ohio, for example, the Republican legislature adopted a heartbeat bill, which suggests that the states interest in protecting the baby’s life begins when the baby has a heartbeat and thus could theoretically survive outside the mother. This is, of course, a very early stage of pregnancy.

    To me, these are middle grounds that would be unacceptable to those whose beliefs inhabit the far ends of the debate (like me), but they are middle grounds nevertheless..

     

     

    • #20
  21. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    The Babylon Bee presents another middle ground.  Texas-style.

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    The Babylon Bee presents another middle ground. Texas-style.

    OMG! That was definitely a laugh-out-loud. Thank you for the moment of mirth, David.

    • #22
  23. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Manny (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):
    Your actual statement of position is what I referred to as religious absolutism, and is an example of what I think will not only not win the day in public opinion, but will probably have negative results.

    No, it’s not religious absolutism. It’s scientific absolutism. A human being is a human being at any stage after fertilization. That’s the objective criteria. Everything else is arbitrary for convenience.

    A normal embryo has the genetic endowment of a human being from the point of conception. It does not, however, have the fully developed phenotype of a human being, a reasoning mammal, which is when I would contend its rights begin to overwhelm any consideration of the mother. That’s just as ‘scientific’ as your formulation.

    • #23
  24. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):
    Your actual statement of position is what I referred to as religious absolutism, and is an example of what I think will not only not win the day in public opinion, but will probably have negative results.

    No, it’s not religious absolutism. It’s scientific absolutism. A human being is a human being at any stage after fertilization. That’s the objective criteria. Everything else is arbitrary for convenience.

    A normal embryo has the genetic endowment of a human being from the point of conception. It does not, however, have the fully developed phenotype of a human being, a reasoning mammal, which is when I would contend its rights begin to overwhelm any consideration of the mother. That’s just as ‘scientific’ as your formulation.

    Reasoning is the line you would draw?

    Lots of luck with that.

    • #24
  25. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    Actually, I believe there are some variations that suggest a middle ground, albeit a middle ground that would be totally unsatisfactory to anyone who believes that life begins at conception.

    If life didn’t begin at conception then it would be impossible to kill it.  At conception the human cells are clearly life: living and alive.  But killing it is what is being done with abortion — the early cells are being killed.  And if left to grow, they will become a human being that same as you.   Human LIFE begins at conception whether anyone wants to believe that there is life in the human cells or not.

    • #25
  26. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):
    Your actual statement of position is what I referred to as religious absolutism, and is an example of what I think will not only not win the day in public opinion, but will probably have negative results.

    No, it’s not religious absolutism. It’s scientific absolutism. A human being is a human being at any stage after fertilization. That’s the objective criteria. Everything else is arbitrary for convenience.

    A normal embryo has the genetic endowment of a human being from the point of conception. It does not, however, have the fully developed phenotype of a human being, a reasoning mammal, which is when I would contend its rights begin to overwhelm any consideration of the mother. That’s just as ‘scientific’ as your formulation.

    Neither does a one day old.  Neither does a person born mentally challenged.  Neither does a person who has severe brain damage.  This again is the Liberal argument from sentience.  

    • #26
  27. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    In my state, Ohio, for example, the Republican legislature adopted a heartbeat bill, which suggests that the states interest in protecting the baby’s life begins when the baby has a heartbeat and thus could theoretically survive outside the mother. This is, of course, a very early stage of pregnancy.

    To me, these are middle grounds that would be unacceptable to those whose beliefs inhabit the far ends of the debate (like me), but they are middle grounds nevertheless..

    Well, there is political power and political power will ultimately get its way.  I have been arguing from the philosophic merits of the issue.  Each state will find some balancing point to satisfy the most voters.  But mind you, this is raw political power, not philosophic consistency or more importantly ethical justification.  It is the same raw political power that determined people with black skin were not human beings and justified enslavement or the same raw political power that determined in Nazi Germany that six million people were not human enough to live.  Raw political power, that is, might, does not make right.  And for certain there is no nobility in it.

    Let me tell you something about the heartbeat criteria.  I’ve been close to the pro-life movement for at least ten years, probably more.  When I was looking for some sort of compromising criteria, I came up with the heartbeat.  No where had I ever heard anyone propose it, and for the longest time I still hadn’t.  I thought I held the secret formula for compromise.  Not that I published it anywhere, but since I never heard anyone else bring it up I held it close to my heart.  The first I heard anyone was a year to two years ago when one of the states recently brought it up as a criteria.  Perhaps it was Ohio.  I thought, finally someone is bringing this up, but by this time I had come to the realization that it is just as much a human being before the heart starts beating as after.  The normal human progress is under way, just as any normal human progress, just as my body at 60 is heading toward senescence. A human being is a human being at whatever stage it is at.   It does not meet meet the ethical criteria.

    Now that is not to say I would not accept it.  The heart starts beating at six weeks or less.  That’s pretty early and is a firm criteria that an abortionist can be held to.  If the most Liberal of the states would adopt the heartbeat criteria I would be thrilled.  I think I’ve mentioned this before.  On abortion I feel like Schindler at the end of the movie, Schindler’s List.  How can I save one more.

    • #27
  28. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Manny (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):
    Your actual statement of position is what I referred to as religious absolutism, and is an example of what I think will not only not win the day in public opinion, but will probably have negative results.

    No, it’s not religious absolutism. It’s scientific absolutism. A human being is a human being at any stage after fertilization. That’s the objective criteria. Everything else is arbitrary for convenience.

    A normal embryo has the genetic endowment of a human being from the point of conception. It does not, however, have the fully developed phenotype of a human being, a reasoning mammal, which is when I would contend its rights begin to overwhelm any consideration of the mother. That’s just as ‘scientific’ as your formulation.

    Neither does a one day old. Neither does a person born mentally challenged. Neither does a person who has severe brain damage. This again is the Liberal argument from sentience.

    No, it’s not. I’m saying the cutoff is evidence of cerebral cortex function. Neural activity, no IQ tests, no sanity checks. How about engaging with that argument instead of name calling or putting words in my mouth. I’m told that’s more persuasive.

    • #28
  29. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):
    Your actual statement of position is what I referred to as religious absolutism, and is an example of what I think will not only not win the day in public opinion, but will probably have negative results.

    No, it’s not religious absolutism. It’s scientific absolutism. A human being is a human being at any stage after fertilization. That’s the objective criteria. Everything else is arbitrary for convenience.

    A normal embryo has the genetic endowment of a human being from the point of conception. It does not, however, have the fully developed phenotype of a human being, a reasoning mammal, which is when I would contend its rights begin to overwhelm any consideration of the mother. That’s just as ‘scientific’ as your formulation.

    Neither does a one day old. Neither does a person born mentally challenged. Neither does a person who has severe brain damage. This again is the Liberal argument from sentience.

    No, it’s not. I’m saying the cutoff is evidence of cerebral cortex function. Neural activity, no IQ tests, no sanity checks. How about engaging with that argument instead of name calling or putting words in my mouth. I’m told that’s more persuasive.

    I didn’t call you any names. I’m not sure there is much of a distinction between sentience and brain function ability. Even if granted the distinction, it’s still an in process of development moment in time that considers a person not to be a person because he is not fully developed. I don’t see that as any ethically different. 

    • #29
  30. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Manny (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):
    Your actual statement of position is what I referred to as religious absolutism, and is an example of what I think will not only not win the day in public opinion, but will probably have negative results.

    No, it’s not religious absolutism. It’s scientific absolutism. A human being is a human being at any stage after fertilization. That’s the objective criteria. Everything else is arbitrary for convenience.

    A normal embryo has the genetic endowment of a human being from the point of conception. It does not, however, have the fully developed phenotype of a human being, a reasoning mammal, which is when I would contend its rights begin to overwhelm any consideration of the mother. That’s just as ‘scientific’ as your formulation.

    Neither does a one day old. Neither does a person born mentally challenged. Neither does a person who has severe brain damage. This again is the Liberal argument from sentience.

    No, it’s not. I’m saying the cutoff is evidence of cerebral cortex function. Neural activity, no IQ tests, no sanity checks. How about engaging with that argument instead of name calling or putting words in my mouth. I’m told that’s more persuasive.

    I didn’t call you any names. I’m not sure there is much of a distinction between sentience and brain function ability. Even if granted the distinction, it’s still an in process of development moment in time that considers a person not to be a person because he is not fully developed. I don’t see that as any ethically different.

    And that is the problem with drawing that particular line. Just as soon as it is drawn, someone is going to try to move it.

    • #30
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