What the Cave Boys Teach About Abortion

 
Cave or Womb?
Photo credit: shutterstock.com

Twelve boys and their adult coach trapped in a dank, oxygen-deprived cave in Thailand riveted the world’s attention for two weeks. Why, people ask at times like this, are we so focused on these individuals when half a million Rohingya refugee children are in danger of starving on the Bangladesh border, or when 400,000 Yemeni children are severely undernourished?

The answer is drama. We saw images of these particular boys crouched in that cave. We learned of the long odds against a successful rescue – their debilitated health after so many days without food and water, the sharp rocks, narrow passages, and nearly complete darkness of the cave, and waters that challenged even experienced divers (as the death of a Thai Navy seal underscored). Some of the boys didn’t even know how to swim, far less scuba dive.

As for the thousands of abused, terrorized, and starving children in the world, they remain mostly an abstraction. That is, for better or worse, the way our brains operate. We saw those boys as individuals and thus our sympathy was engaged.

Something similar is happening with regard to the way we see unborn babies. When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, ultrasound technology was not in common use. By the end of the 20th century, most pregnant women were having at least one scan. As Malcolm Nicolson, author of a history of ultrasound, told LiveScience, “Overwhelmingly, pregnant women expect to be scanned, and are moved and excited by seeing the fetus,” Nicolson said. And some women report not feeling pregnant until they’ve seen the ultrasound image.

Once grainy and hard to interpret for non-experts, ultrasound images are now clear and unambiguous. They reveal that fetuses as young as 15 weeks old will move to avoid a bright light shined on the mother’s belly. They reveal fetuses placing their hands in front of their faces, palm out, sucking their thumbs, getting hiccups, and smiling. Some interpret these smiles as random muscle movements rather than true smiles since born babies rarely smile until six weeks old. But try telling the besotted parents who glimpse a smile on a sonogram that it means nothing. That’s the way we’re wired. Ultrasound is like those cameras in the cave. It reveals the humanity of those inside a dark, inaccessible place.

We are now poised to have the national debate on the legality of abortion that has been thwarted by the Supreme Court for 45 years. If Judge Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, and if Roe v. Wade is overturned sometime in the next several years (a big if), individual states will be forced to confront the morality of terminating pregnancies instead of hiding behind the Supreme Court to manage our most fraught controversies.

Some Republican lawmakers who have been fundraising and campaigning on opposition to Roe will doubtless be revealed as towers of Jello when the issue is finally confronted. Despite recent hyperventilating about politicians’ enslavement to donors or “special interests,” the pedestrian reality is that they are much more in thrall to public opinion. And the public is conflicted. As polling analyst Karlyn Bowman has pointed out, the same Americans will say that they believe abortion to be murder, and that it should be a personal choice made by a woman and her doctor.

Most Americans favor restrictions on abortion like parental and spousal consent, limits on late term abortions, and also favor exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, four states have laws on the books that would outlaw abortion if Roe were overturned. Another 10 retain their pre-Roe abortion bans, obviously unenforced, on the books. Nine states affirm the right to abortion prior to viability or to protect the life or health of the mother. 

If Roe were overturned, all of those laws and many more would be up for debate. How 50 state arguments would turn out is anyone’s guess, but even leaving the merits to one side, it would be a very healthy thing for our democracy to grapple with tough questions instead of bowing to the nine lawyers on the court. Even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg acknowledged in 2013 that by taking the question out of the hands of legislatures (and thus of voters), the Supreme Court did a disservice to the nation. “That was my concern,” she said, “that the court had given opponents of access to abortion a target to aim at relentlessly. … My criticism of Roe is that it seemed to have stopped the momentum that was on the side of change.”

I believe that abortion is a moral wrong. But above all I believe that Americans deserve to be heard on the subject, and that is now a true possibility for the first time in decades.

COPYRIGHT 2018 CREATORS.COM

Published in Culture
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There are 30 comments.

  1. Member

    Agreed. But I worry that Scott Adams may be right in predicting that states that pass laws banning or restricting abortion will then be subject to economic boycotts like the states that did not go along with same sex marriage or transgender bathrooms.

    • #1
    • July 10, 2018 at 12:13 pm
    • Like
  2. Member

    Mona Charen: As for the thousands of abused, terrorized, and starving children in the world, they remain mostly an abstraction. That is, for better or worse, the way our brains operate. We saw those boys as individuals and thus our sympathy was engaged.

    Stalin allegedly said, “One death is a tragedy; one million deaths is a statistic.” Whether or not he actually said this, it is certainly accurate. The Thai kids remind me of Jessica McClure, who fell into a well and captivated the nation for days. The world loves a media circus.

    • #2
    • July 10, 2018 at 12:24 pm
    • 3 likes
  3. Member

    TeamAmerica (View Comment):
    that states that pass laws banning or restricting abortion will then be subject to economic boycotts

    If that occurs (and I agree it is likely), it will be so ironic that a state is being punished for it’s “right to choose” to ban abortions by those who don’t like the choice. Heh!

    • #3
    • July 10, 2018 at 12:36 pm
    • 3 likes
  4. Inactive

    Well, the cave boys and abortion have one thing in common as far as I’m concerned: I’m sick to death of both, and wish they’d go away.

    Also both represent people voluntarily placing themselves in situations that they could easily have avoided , that later turn out to be undesirable or dangerous to them, and then asking the rest of the world to feel sorry for ’em.

    What was a soccer team doing in a cave known to be treacherous right at the beginning of the monsoons?

    What is a woman who doesn’t want a baby doing having unprotected, or sloppily protected, intercourse? 

    • #4
    • July 10, 2018 at 1:05 pm
    • 4 likes
  5. Thatcher

    Mona Charen: individual states will be forced to confront the morality of terminating pregnancies instead of hiding behind the Supreme Court to manage our most fraught controversies.

    I never thought about this before. Congress has abdicated its responsibility to write law by delegating regulations to the Executive Branch. I see what you mean, states can delegate their responsibility to debate this (and other) issues by saying “It’s been decided by the Suprme Court so the debate is over.”

    Yet . . .

    Several states have tried to put what I feel are reasonable restrictions on abortion, but Roe v. Wade is the cornerstone the left uses to try and thwart these efforts. Overturning Roe would make all states have to confront this issue, face their voters, hold debates, etc., things legislators want to avoid if they want to remain in their cushy offices a long time.

    Thanks for pointing this out!

    • #5
    • July 10, 2018 at 1:13 pm
    • 4 likes
  6. Member

    Once grainy and hard to interpret for non-experts, ultrasound images are now clear and unambiguous. They reveal that fetuses as young as 15 weeks old will move to avoid a bright light shined on the mother’s belly.They reveal fetuses placing their hands in front of their faces, palm out, sucking their thumbs, getting hiccups, and smiling. Some interpret these smiles as random muscle movements rather than true smiles since born babies rarely smile until six weeks old. But try telling the besotted parents who glimpse a smile on a sonogram that it means nothing. That’s the way we’re wired. Ultrasound is like those cameras in the cave. It reveals the humanity of those inside a dark, inaccessible place.

    • #6
    • July 10, 2018 at 1:21 pm
    • 8 likes
  7. Member

    I think you are correct, it’s hard to find cute cuddlies in the gay marriage debate or brown vs education, hence the traction for overturning Roe while the others remain on the books…. is that a good thing that our national debate is easily manipulated by emotion?

    • #7
    • July 10, 2018 at 1:43 pm
    • Like
  8. Member

    You never see pictures of ugly kids being separated from their parents at the border.

    • #8
    • July 10, 2018 at 1:55 pm
    • 2 likes
  9. Member

    Hypatia (View Comment):
    What was a soccer team doing in a cave known to be treacherous right at the beginning of the monsoons?

    Caveat emptor.

    • #9
    • July 10, 2018 at 1:58 pm
    • Like
  10. Member

    Mona Charen: What the Cave Boys Teach About Abortion

    If you choose to go into the tunnel, know that there may be consequences ?

    • #10
    • July 10, 2018 at 2:03 pm
    • 5 likes
  11. Inactive

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Mona Charen: What the Cave Boys Teach About Abortion

    If you choose to go into the tunnel, know that there may be consequences ?

    Yeah…y’know, these stories about women who “find themselves”pregnant always start with the li’l blue line, or maybe her finally noticing she hasn’t had a period for two months…why don’t we ever get the prequel: the night in the bar when she was mesmerized by his smoldering stare, the hurried consultation about where to go….I think the male deserves that much, since he’s totally out of the picture once conception has occurred.

    And that, dear maiden, is where “choice” first became an issue,

    • #11
    • July 10, 2018 at 2:38 pm
    • 4 likes
  12. Member

    There’s one big difference between the cave boys and aborted children.

    The cave boys were wanted.

    • #12
    • July 10, 2018 at 2:55 pm
    • 5 likes
  13. Member

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    Yeah…y’know, these stories about women who “find themselves”pregnant always start with the li’l blue line, or maybe her finally noticing she hasn’t had a period for two months…why don’t we ever get the prequel: the night in the bar when she was mesmerized by his smoldering stare, the hurried consultation about where to go….I think the male deserves that much, since he’s totally out of the picture once conception has occurred.

    And that, dear maiden, is where “choice” first became an issue,

    Ah, the writing.

    • #13
    • July 10, 2018 at 3:10 pm
    • 3 likes
  14. Member

    Mona Charen: If Judge Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, and if Roe v. Wade is overturned sometime in the next several years (a big if), individual states will be forced to confront the morality of terminating pregnancies instead of hiding behind the Supreme Court to manage our most fraught controversies.

    Or of hiding behind euphemisms like “terminating pregnancies.”

    • #14
    • July 10, 2018 at 3:34 pm
    • 3 likes
  15. Member

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Once grainy and hard to interpret for non-experts, ultrasound images are now clear and unambiguous. They reveal that fetuses as young as 15 weeks old will move to avoid a bright light shined on the mother’s belly.They reveal fetuses placing their hands in front of their faces, palm out, sucking their thumbs, getting hiccups, and smiling. Some interpret these smiles as random muscle movements rather than true smiles since born babies rarely smile until six weeks old. But try telling the besotted parents who glimpse a smile on a sonogram that it means nothing. That’s the way we’re wired. Ultrasound is like those cameras in the cave. It reveals the humanity of those inside a dark, inaccessible place.

    Colombo, that is extraordinary. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing! Everyone who hasn’t really should watch this. Wow.

    • #15
    • July 10, 2018 at 4:21 pm
    • 4 likes
  16. Member

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Once grainy and hard to interpret for non-experts, ultrasound images are now clear and unambiguous. They reveal that fetuses as young as 15 weeks old will move to avoid a bright light shined on the mother’s belly.They reveal fetuses placing their hands in front of their faces, palm out, sucking their thumbs, getting hiccups, and smiling. Some interpret these smiles as random muscle movements rather than true smiles since born babies rarely smile until six weeks old. But try telling the besotted parents who glimpse a smile on a sonogram that it means nothing. That’s the way we’re wired. Ultrasound is like those cameras in the cave. It reveals the humanity of those inside a dark, inaccessible place.

    Colombo, that is extraordinary. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing! Everyone who hasn’t really should watch this. Wow.

    Thank you Caryn. Yes, this 9:37 TED talk is extraordinary. I have posted it here before because it is so incredible.

    NASA scientist Alexander Tsiaras illustrates the technology and algorithms that they used to “visualize” a new human life from conception to birth. He marvels at the structures and instructions that are so far beyond the human mind. He uses the word “divinity” because there is no other explanation.

    As a scientist, medical doctor and mathematician … he proves the existence of God and that each of these babies are little human beings from their conception … magnificent origami’s. 

    No wonder he is sweating bullets throughout the presentation. All of this is a shibboleth in his scientific community.

    • #16
    • July 10, 2018 at 5:49 pm
    • 5 likes
  17. Member

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    Caveat

    the Jon benet and Elizabeth Smart effect?

    • #17
    • July 10, 2018 at 7:35 pm
    • Like
  18. Member

    Mona, a very moving post. 

    What I lament even more than the “women’s right to abortion” court stance is the government and Institutional peer pressure to abort a baby. Whether Roe vs Wade is overturned there likely always will be a place where one could have an abortion. What remains is the choice.

    Our schools, Universities, Government Social institutions and the Media all promote abortions in a very heavy handed way. There is no “neutral” government stance on abortion. Abortions are encouraged. Those who decide to keep the child of a unwanted pregnancy are often shunned. 

     Your paragraph “Once grainy and hard to interpret for non-experts, ultrasound images are now clear and unambiguous. They reveal that fetuses as young as 15 weeks old will move to avoid a bright light shined on the mother’s belly. They reveal fetuses placing their hands in front of their faces, palm out, sucking their thumbs, getting hiccups, and smiling. Some interpret these smiles as random muscle movements rather than true smiles since born babies rarely smile until six weeks old. But try telling the besotted parents who glimpse a smile on a sonogram that it means nothing. That’s the way we’re wired. Ultrasound is like those cameras in the cave. It reveals the humanity of those inside a dark, inaccessible place.” reveals the hard to forget humanity one sees in a very young fetus that once one sees will make the choice to abort very difficult. 

    Allowing young women and the father to be to have access to all the facts and these ultra-sound images may be the biggest deterrent to abortions than any law opposing abortions. 

    • #18
    • July 10, 2018 at 10:22 pm
    • 5 likes
  19. Member

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    Well, the cave boys and abortion have one thing in common as far as I’m concerned: I’m sick to death of both, and wish they’d go away.

    Also both represent people voluntarily placing themselves in situations that they could easily have avoided , that later turn out to be undesirable or dangerous to them, and then asking the rest of the world to feel sorry for ’em.

    What was a soccer team doing in a cave known to be treacherous right at the beginning of the monsoons?

    What is a woman who doesn’t want a baby doing having unprotected, or sloppily protected, intercourse?

    From what I’ve read, the “soccer team” was in fact a bunch of kids who went off on their own.

    There’s some important details here: Backstory

    I’m reminded of Jordan Peterson’s chapter: Don’t bug kids that are skateboarding (close, but not exact).

    As a mother of four (three boys, one girl. Uncountable trips to emergency rooms) it’s reflexive to look at something horrible that has happened, then determine that it wouldn’t happen to your kid. As the victim of more than one raised eye brow, I recognize this as a safety mechanism. Don’t want your kid to break a collar bone? Dislocate a thumb? Have stitches in her eyebrow? Have 27 stitches in his forehead? Have to get an MRI? Don’t let them play sports. Don’t let them go off on their own, don’t let them climb a tree. Never let them ride a bike.

    You want to keep your kids safe? Easy. Give them the remote or the iPad and never let them leave the house. This from the mother of the groom this weekend – with a toddler grand daughter with a massive shiner. There were lots of “baby fight club” jokes over the weekend.

    Back to the topic at hand – there’s been many a baby who has been loved and had a great life thanks to “unprotected, or sloppily protected, intercourse”; my parents were married when I was conceived, but I’m pretty sure I count as one of the above. And I’m willing to bet that the four siblings that followed me were in the same category.

    My new daughter-in-law, in fact, was conceived by her parents after her parents were divorced.

    So Mona is right; focus on life. Have all the sloppy unprotected sex you want; just know it may result in a blessing: a pregnancy. A life.

    • #19
    • July 11, 2018 at 12:45 am
    • 3 likes
  20. Thatcher

    Herbert defender of the Realm,… (View Comment):
    …. is that a good thing that our national debate is easily manipulated by emotion?

    No, it’s not. But using emotion is a mainstay of the left, and we’re stuck with having to use it whenever we can . . .

    • #20
    • July 11, 2018 at 6:15 am
    • Like
  21. Thatcher

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    You never see pictures of ugly kids being separated from their parents at the border.

    Or “parents” who are clearly members of MS13 . . .

    • #21
    • July 11, 2018 at 6:16 am
    • Like
  22. Thatcher

    Hypatia (View Comment):
    And that, dear maiden, is where “choice” first became an issue,

    How come no one talks about using contraception as a choice? In fact, it’s the smart choice to make if you’re a young woman who’s sexually active . . .

    • #22
    • July 11, 2018 at 6:18 am
    • Like
  23. Thatcher

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    You never see pictures of ugly kids being separated from their parents at the border.

    Well, obviously, it must be that parents with ugly kids never try to get in illegally.

    • #23
    • July 11, 2018 at 6:31 am
    • Like
  24. Member

    Unsk (View Comment):
    Those who decide to keep the child of a unwanted pregnancy are often shunned. 

    There is much less of this these days. The real shunning is directed at young women who choose to have the baby and offer it for adoption.

    • #24
    • July 11, 2018 at 7:58 am
    • 1 like
  25. Member

    Unsk (View Comment):
    Those who decide to keep the child of a unwanted pregnancy are often shunned.

    Not disagreeing with you per se, but I’d suggest this phenomenon would be pretty natural, from a behavioural point-of-view.

    A young single woman who keeps the child of an unwanted pregnancy is almost certainly going to drop a few rungs on the socio-economic ladder. Her former friends will suddenly be less equipped to relate to her, because they’re no longer in the same socio-economic class.

    Also, she won’t have the spare income or time to spend on socializing with her friends, so of course she’ll see them less. They’re young, unattached people with money to burn. They don’t wanna be spending their time hanging out in their single-mommy friend’s parents’ house. They wanna be out and about being fabulous women-of-the-world.

    Of course, if the young woman in question is already from a socio-economic class where single-motherhood is a common phenomenon, then it’s much less likely she’ll be ostracized.

    • #25
    • July 11, 2018 at 8:57 am
    • Like
  26. Member

    Suspira (View Comment):

    Unsk (View Comment):
    Those who decide to keep the child of a unwanted pregnancy are often shunned.

    There is much less of this these days. The real shunning is directed at young women who choose to have the baby and offer it for adoption.

    Hmm. I’m unconvinced. Citation needed, methinks.

    • #26
    • July 11, 2018 at 8:59 am
    • Like
  27. Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Hypatia (View Comment):
    And that, dear maiden, is where “choice” first became an issue,

    How come no one talks about using contraception as a choice? In fact, it’s the smart choice to make if you’re a young woman who’s sexually active . . .

    Humans are notoriously terrible at evaluating risk.

    • #27
    • July 11, 2018 at 9:01 am
    • Like
  28. Member

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    Suspira (View Comment):

    Unsk (View Comment):
    Those who decide to keep the child of a unwanted pregnancy are often shunned.

    There is much less of this these days. The real shunning is directed at young women who choose to have the baby and offer it for adoption.

    Hmm. I’m unconvinced. Citation needed, methinks.

    I’m not not sure this is true. 

    My daughter got pregnant while engaged – she didn’t get married until her first was 8 months old. I don’t remember so much as a quirked eyebrow – not even from my good friend the priest. My sisters all insisted on a baby shower for her, which my Evangelical relatives all attended. And my rosary group showered her with prayers and attention.

    I think “shunning” has been rejected in favor of life. I can only assume the more shunning, the more abortions.

    • #28
    • July 11, 2018 at 11:01 am
    • 1 like
  29. Member

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    Suspira (View Comment):

    Unsk (View Comment):
    Those who decide to keep the child of a unwanted pregnancy are often shunned.

    There is much less of this these days. The real shunning is directed at young women who choose to have the baby and offer it for adoption.

    Hmm. I’m unconvinced. Citation needed, methinks.

    I don’t have studies, just experience. No one bats an eye at illegitimacy anymore. The young woman gets congratulations and baby showers, not disapproval. This is what goes on around here, anyway.

    • #29
    • July 11, 2018 at 2:09 pm
    • Like
  30. Member

    Amnefy, your daughter was already engaged. One would assume that your daughter and her husband to be wanted to keep the baby without question. That is not the situation I am talking about.

    Suspira, I don’t think the question is about illegitimacy. The life long curse of illegitimacy is from a bygone era. Now the question posed to young women often is why don’t you enjoy your youth rather than be taken down by having a baby. The abortion culture is a throwaway culture and it is omnipresent in our youth culture. It’s my opinion that the throwaway abortion culture is being pushed often by the Progressive Left because it is one of their paramount wedge political issues for them to exploit, and they could give a damn of the consequences to people’s lives this culture causes.

    That said, I am also not underestimating the live changing responsibility of taking care of a young baby. Many young women are not ready for that particularly if there is not a father around to provide additional support. 

    • #30
    • July 11, 2018 at 6:19 pm
    • Like