Abortion column

Abortion in America:
the antithesis of consensus

By Brad Warthen
Editorial Page Editor
THE SOUTH Carolina General Assembly did a number of important things last week:

  • A House panel slam-dumped a proposal to keep the Barnwell nuclear waste facility open past 2008, sending a clear, 16-0 signal that our state does not want to be seen as the nation’s trashcan.
  • The full House dramatically rejected the latest attempt to slip tuition tax credits for the affluent and vouchers for everybody into the new superintendent of education’s public school choice bill.
  • The House missed a chance to meaningfully reform the state Department of Transportation, passing a bill that leaves an accountability-diffusing commission in the driver’s seat. The Senate did something much worse.
  • The House sent 4K back to a committee for further consideration. Remember last year, when it seemed we had a consensus that the state had a critical role to play in early education for the neediest children? That’s in danger now.

    Lawmakers did other things, such as move toward some improvements in DUI law, ditch the idea of a Confederate Memorial Month, and discussed requiring that women be shown an ultrasound before they get an abortion.
    That last one certainly caused a lot of talk. But our editorial board didn’t take a stand on the subject, and probably won’t. Why? We adopt editorial positions on the basis of consensus, and on abortion, our board is like America: We have no consensus. Abortion in America is the antithesis of consensus.
    Witness the insanity that Roe v. Wade imposed on our politics: You can’t be a Democratic nominee for president unless you’ll stack the Supreme Court to protect it, and you can’t be a Republican nominee unless you’ll stack the court to overturn it — as though there were nothing else to being president. And hardly anyone pipes up to say the court shouldn’t be stacked.
    Even if I believed abortion should be available on demand, I wouldn’t think it worth this price. But I don’t. For me, the only ethical position is that it should not be available at all except in a question of a life for a life.
    That doesn’t mean I’m for this bill. Or against it. Logically, it shouldn’t be causing all the fuss it is. But logic is out of bounds in abortion “debates.”
    Why do other abortion opponents bother with this? Do they really think the woman seeking an abortion doesn’t know what she seeks to do? Yes, they do.
    I’ve heard that said critically by opponents of this measure, which is ironic, because they have no more respect for the woman’s intelligence than advocates do. They not only think these images will give the woman information she doesn’t have, they don’t want her to have it. Feminists can be quite paternalistic.
    The measure doesn’t seem to me very likely to produce the effect that advocates seek and opponents fear. The ultrasound, the showing of the pictures, the hour’s wait, and the abortion itself would all occur at the same place — the abortion clinic. I imagine it being treated by all parties present rather like those stupid HIPAA documents we’re required to swear in writing we’ve examined:
    “OK, well, you’ve got to sign these — you’re over 18, right? Here are some brochures we have to give you, and some pictures we took you have to see. I’ll be back in an hour and get you to sign some more forms and we’ll be ready.”
    The fuss is even less logical when you look at the law being amended. Anyone seeking an abortion already must receive brochures about organizations that offer alternatives to abortion, and then wait an hour. Logically, anybody who wasn’t swayed by that is unlikely to be turned around by fuzzy images. But it’s not about logic, is it? There’s something about pictures.
    Given the irrational power of the graven image, it might save some lives, and for that reason I have no particular objection to the bill. I give little credence to arguments that it’s “coercive” or “burdensome.” I would hope that any medical professional about to perform an abortion would want to do an ultrasound anyway, as basic pre-op. If not, maybe “safe, legal and rare” isn’t so much about safe. Or rare. But if an ultrasound is done, why not show the images to the patient? You would with any other kind of procedure.
    If it does save a few lives, some will be miserable. If your mom can be persuaded whether you should live or not on the basis of some odd pictures, she’s not likely to be what you’d call a rock-steady nurturer — especially when you give her affection reason to waver, as even the best children do. That can make for a hell of a childhood. It’s no reason to have an abortion — there is a moral emptiness in saying that because a life is likely to be unhappy, that life should not be.
    But if you advocate for that life, if you pass a law in a frank bid to save that life, you have a burden of responsibility to do what you can to see that child has a chance for something better.
    If the state intervenes to urge that life into being, the state can’t just wait for these kids to show up at its prison gates.
    Any lawmaker who advocates this ultrasound measure should therefore be just as strong a proponent of early childhood education. He should beef up child protective services, and increase Medicaid coverage. Etc.
    Pro-choicers are so obnoxious when they sneer, “They don’t care about the child after it’s born.” What’s more obnoxious is that it’s so often true. In the second trimester, it’s lawmaker to the rescue; 10 years later, it’s “That’s not my child.”
    Why do “bleeding-heart liberals” not care about the most powerless? Why do anti-government types want government intervention at this time and this time only? You would think things would be the other way around.
    But nothing about the whole left-vs.-right divide in this country makes any sense. And it hasn’t, for the past three decades.

54 thoughts on “Abortion column

  1. Mark Whittington

    It’s not a “left vs. right” divide that’s ripping the country apart. It’s the liberal/conservative vs. neo-liberal/neo-conservative dichotomy that is doing the damage. Both types of philosophy are ineffective because they are based on the same faulty premises.
    Take the abortion debate for example. It would be different if every child born had an excellent chance to lead a decent life, but it’s just not the case in modern America. All the above-mentioned ideologies and their respective political bodies ostensibly support “equal opportunity”, and reject equality of outcomes. Yet, modern knowledge, in contrast with Enlightenment thinking, tells us what the general outcome will be. With utmost certainty, I can tell you that when equal opportunity is mixed with free market capitalism that the bottom 40% of the population will live in relative poverty. We know this to be true-it’s not a question of if it will happen-it certainly will happen. Every shred of empirical evidence supports my view on this. When I first made a computer based model economy back in 2003 and started generating correct wealth distributions, then that was the nail in the coffin for the idea that equal opportunity would somehow produce prosperity for the majority of the population. Nothing could be further from the truth!
    Actually, most children born in the US today have a rotten chance of prospering because their parents are forced into an evil system of obliged servitude. How can we accept the notion that the bottom 60% of people and their children will live on only 5% of the national wealth? These children are going to be shoved away in trailer parks, apartments and they will attend substandard schools, and they will sometimes live in crime-ridden neighborhoods. In vain, the “reformers” claim that educational system is the problem, or that these people lack personal responsibility and therefore deserve their low economic status. It’s easy for the professional classes to make these arguments because they let everyone off the hook who is benefiting from the demise of those on the bottom. People who own average wealth and above in the US (i.e., the top 20% who own 84% of the wealth) almost always make the education/responsibility argument because it tends to make them not culpable in their own view.
    Rather we should be focusing on making capitalism fair so as to benefit everyone. Instead of seeing other people as being competitors, we should see them as our equals. Instead of focusing on equal opportunity within capitalism (which is doomed to failure), we should be exploring the benefits of social democracy. Instead talking about reforming education within the context of the meritocracy (misnomer), we should be exploring education so as to create better divisions of labor through true teamwork and democratically determined divisions of labor. Instead of trying to implement band-aid solutions on the state and local level, we should be addressing the problems caused by global capitalism on the federal level through a strong federal government that has the power to defend American workers and their children (even the unborn ones) against a rapacious economic system.

  2. bud

    Brad, your columns would be far more interesting if you focus your writing talents on the issues rather than going off on these endless “I hate partisans” rants. After all, to a certain extent all of have some partisan beliefs. Yours happens to be of the populist variety. You dogmatically support heavy government involvement to solve every problem. I didn’t know it before but I would have bet the family farm that you would have been in the pro-life camp. Why? Because you almost always support the position that requires the most government involvement. So Brad, rather than ranting on and on about the partisan nature of liberals and conservatives why don’t you just embrace your own populist partisanism. That would be the honest thing to do.

  3. bud

    Brad writes:
    “For me, the only ethical position is that it (abortion) should not be available at all except in a question of a life for a life.”
    That statement in and of itself is a highly partisan conservative position to take. You can’t take a position on this issue without being partisan because to accomodate that sentence you condone forcing women to give birth against their will. If that’s what you believe fine, but don’t say you’re not a partisan on this issue.

  4. ed

    Bud, I don’t want to debate the abortion issue with you or anyone else, but I would just say that IF one takes the position that what is in the womb is a baby human, then the issue is a little more complicated than simply that we’re “forcing the woman to give birth against her will” as you called it. Societies that are worth living in have always protected the rights (especially the right to life) of those who are helpless and unable to stand up for themselves. And I don’t just mean babies. This is exactly why many of us were so opposed to what happened to Terry Schaivo and her parents.
    Brad, I take issue with you on two points. First, calling feminists who are pro-abortionist “paternalistic” when it comes to letting expectant mothers see the images is being WAY too kind. These people are clearly and completely agendized and unwilling to allow pregnant women to see the images because they are pretty sure what it will do in the heart of that mother. That brings up my second difference with you: You say that “fuzzy images” are unlikely to have any impact when an expectant mother has already seen the brochures. I completely and whole-heartedly disagree. Brochures won’t show a beating heart or a little one actively sucking her thumb. I don’t care if they are fuzzy, they’ll show the mom that this is a living baby like a piece of paper will never do. Again, this is precisely why feminists and abortionists and their supporters are in such a lather about this bill. Ed

  5. ed

    Presidents have alway tried to “stack” the Supreme Court so that it more closely reflects his core values and beliefs about things. While it is true and unfortunate that abortion has become sort of a “pass-fail” test for appointment to the high court, I don’t think the general practice of presidents in nominating people who share their beliefs and philosophy is a bad thing. Since the president is an elected leader, his supreme court nominees will indirectly and rightly reflect the shape that the general electorate wants the court to take. Ed

  6. Lee

    One primary reason for there not being more wealthy Americans is the progressive income tax. It is sold with the big lie that the purpose is to level things by taking away wealth from those who earned the most and give it to those who least deserve it.
    In reality, most of the money is siphoned off by a bloated bureaucracy of overpaid drones, while the poor are given just enough to maintain them in their condition, and middle income wage earners and small businessmen have to surrender the savings they would use to expand their own businesses. That keeps them from moving up and threatening the permanently wealthy old money.
    Still, the top 10% of incomes pay 90% of the taxes, so they should own at least 84% of the assets.

  7. Dave

    Brad, our state could solve all of its fiscal problems and have the revenue for the most advanced educational system in the country with one simple policy. That policy would be to raise the fees to bring nuclear waste materials astronomically. This is free market factors working at their best. If we are the only disposal site available, raise the fees. What would be the price? I don’t know, but if SC gets 4 million a year now, how about 400 million, or 4 billion? Let’s wise up. Charge what the market will (have) to pay!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. ed

    Excellent point Dave! I agree whole-heartedly, and this would also (possibly) have the effect of enticing more storage sites into the market. The thing I don’t understand is why this hasn’t already been done. Surely smarter people than we can see that this is a good idea. Maybe the market really isn’t “free,” meaning that maybe we aren’t at liberty to raise our price. Ed

  9. ed

    You know, it occurred to me that raising our price to store nuclear waste would probably cause power generation costs to go up in states that ship their waste here. Naturally these costs would be passed on to consumers in those states, and this might have the added beneficial effect of softening their resistance to building their own storage sites. NIMBY might not be such a war cry if their power bills quadruple. we need to raise our prices by an order of magnitude tomorrow. ed

  10. Dave

    ed, My guess is if the pols can vote to stop accepting toxic waste then they can set pricing. If there is a federal rule or contractual agreement governing fees, then its time to get creative. A new transportation fee would suffice. A special fee on the movement of toxic waste “into” the state, just like we can control our own state sales taxes.

  11. bud

    Ed, I believe the Barnwell site stores low level radio active waste from hospitals and other sources not related to power generation. If that’s true then part of your argument for raising the fees is not relevant. Maybe someone could weigh in on this that has more knowledge that I do. Even so your idea for raising the fees is a good one.

  12. Lee

    How do you figure that having the government tax nuclear materials “at an astronomical rate” is “free market at its best”?
    You are advocating the use of oppressive taxes to destroy business.

  13. Dave

    Lee, the fact that no other state will agree to store the toxic waste does speak for itself. But here we are absorbing that waste and to what benefit? If we raise the cost of this exchange (via government imposed fees) then we will find out at what price other states want to take on the burden. It is no coincidence that Texas and Alaska, to name two, are states with NO state income taxes. Why? They are capitalizing on oil revenues and all other citizens in the nation who buy oil are subsidizing that funding. So I propose we since we dont have oil or gas wells, then let us capitalize on the toxic waste industry. I also don’t like the idea of feeding the legislative pigs with more money in the trough, but that is a separate problem.

  14. Lee

    No state NEEDS an income tax. A 5% sales tax is more than enough to run all the legitimate state programs. The rest just goes to vote-buying and bribe-paying projects.
    My opposition to burying nuclear or chemical waste in SC, over a major aquifer, is that it is not the best solution. It just happened to be another case of greedy politicians selling something they didn’t own for slush money the state didn’t need. It’s the sort of low-level thinking that still infects our politicians.
    On a national level, we have good solutions of burying nuclear waste back in uranium mines, and incineration of chemical waste, but the phony “environmentalists” block all those, because their cause is a front for attacking business, especially the prosperity of America.

  15. Dave

    Lee, you and I don’t really disagree on this issue. But to look realistically SC will still be importing toxic waste for the next 10 years, so if we can tax it very heavily in order to eliminate property tax and reduce income tax, lets do it. The waste should be in Yucca Mountain encased in miles of solid rock, but Dirty Harry will see to it that SC keeps getting it.

  16. Lee

    Nuclear reprocessing is where it is because of the secrecy surrounding all nuclear work in the early days. Roosevelt and Truman located the facilities in very rural areas where there would be little oversight and no political resistance from Democrats who controlled the states: Los Alamos, Barnwell, Oak Ridge, western Washington state.
    Our current legislature still has the school whore mentality which manifests itself in promoting cheap labor, accepting other state’s landfill, chemical and nuclear waste for low fees, and giving away millions of dollars in tax breaks to big businesses.
    The result is that highly-skilled individuals and advanced small businesses with national and international customers have lots incentives to move to Georgia or North Carolina.

  17. Susan

    The man responsible for creating the fetus should also be required to view the untrasound IF the woman must see it. I do not agree that the woman should see an untrasound. The fetus is alive in her body; what more does she need to know?

  18. Brad Warthen

    Of course he should see it. But that has nothing to do with what we’re talking about, unless he’s the one who gets to decide whether an abortion takes place or not — which of course is a decision he SHOULD get a share in, but currently does not.
    The problem in America — to varying degrees, this is not true in European countries — is that we have granted absolute, life-or-death powers to a single individual in the case of abortion. Even if one thinks abortions are good things, this is terrible law. A lot of people think capital punishment is a good thing, too, but we put plenty of checks and appeals into the process to keep any one person’s — or even one jury’s — decision from being absolute.
    Not so with abortion in America. We have a crazy situation here.

  19. bud

    We’ve had this discussion before. It comes down to this: When all is said and done either: (1) the state makes decisions regarding when to carry a pregnancy to term or (2) the pregnant woman makes that decision. There is no third option.
    Brad, your analogy with the death penalty is very flawed. The state, by definition, makes that decision because there is no second option. In issues where it is reasonable for one person to decide that is the way to go. After all, would you have the government decide what color to paint your house? Or what kind of shoes to where? Of course not. Those are decisions that can be satisfied by an individual. Abortion is the same way. One individual can be designated to make the final decision. That person can seek guidance from whoever she chooses but in the end it should be her decision and hers alone to decide.

  20. Brad Warthen

    You equate whether a child lives to be born or not with choosing the color of your house?
    Separate question, worth extra points for you committed libertarians out there: Do parents have the right to choose to beat their toddlers to death, or does the state have an obligation to intervene? Compare and contrast.

  21. Lee

    The problem with abortion laws is that they are the result of a very poor Supreme Court decision which drew some very bad defining criteria, then told the states that they had to pass laws meeting those criteria, when most state legislatures wanted to regain their power by undermining this legislating from the bench.
    I don’t know where Brad gets his silly ideas about libertarianism – certainly not from reading. Libertarians have written extensively on all these subjects. Although they may disagree among themselves on may things, they agree on the foundation premises, which begin with the sanctity of all human life.
    Since Brad jumped from the unborn to “a child” of any age, the answer is easy. A child is a human being. No one has the right to initiate force against another human being. A parent has no more right to murder a child than a stranger would have. Libertarians don’t redefine murder according to who is committing the act. They might argue that some murder or lesser homocide is justifiable in certain circumstances, such as self defense. I cannot image any adult claiming the legal defense that they had no choice but to murder a child to protect themselves.
    That is the argument abortion proponents do make with the unborn child – that the mother has a right to protect herself by killing a parasite, even if they chose to become pregnant and then changed their minds.

  22. ed

    Of course he sees the choice for abortion that way Brad. He MUST see it that way, and so must Mary and anyone else who believes in abortion on demand. I say again, if one ever allows that what is in the womb is a baby human, then of course it follows that the state has an interest…because society has an interest. The interest we have is protecting the rights of a helpless fellow human being. Abortion supporters can’t allow womb contents to be deemed a human being…it causes them to toss and turn at night, and if there is a fellow human in the womb, then it is inarguable that he has rights. Mary, we don’t reduce women to “containers,” but the time for her to exercize judgement is BEFORE pregnancy, not after. After she gets pregnant, it’s not just her rights alone that must be considered. Ed

  23. Lee

    To be critical of those who oppose all, or almost all, voluntary medical abortion, many of them want to assert that The State has more right to say who lives and dies than the biological kin, in this case the mother and father.
    This is the problem with too many issues; a group of people want to reduce their basic position to a simplistic formula and impose it on everyone else by granting powers to the state which none of them had to grant. Other examples are those who want to outlaw other people’s firearms ownership, hunting, fishing, tobacco smoking, alcholic beverages, and SUVs.
    That’s the reason abortion debates usually go nowhere. Both sides cloak themselves in pretense and talk in euphemisms, afraid to use accurate and honest language, like “murder”, “homocide”, “your right”, “my wish”, etc.
    Abortion is always homocide. Sometimes it is murder. Sometimes either one is justifiable. Sometimes that decision belongs to the mother, sometimes to both biological parents, sometimes to the broader community.

  24. ed

    When is the freedom to choose to commit homicide EVER granted to a single person who is an average citizen other than when it’s called abortion? Other than abortion, the only times I can think of that homicide is committed that isn’t considered murder is either when it’s done as punishment administered by the state (capital punishment) or when a police officer must commit homicide to stop a threat or save a life. The state is not an individual, it is an extension of “us.” Society. The police officer is not generally actiong as an individual citizen, he is empowered by the state to act on its’ (our) behalf. Individual women who abort babies are niether of these. To give her the “right” to commit homicide is aberrant and really contorts the idea of “rights.” Ed

  25. ed

    Or in war. Missed that one, but the point stands, as soldiers are again extensions of the state, and ultimately us. Ed

  26. Paul DeMarco

    Thanks for raising this topic. Abortion is the most difficult moral issue we face as a nation. Despite that, opportunities to discuss it meaningfully are few. So this gives the blog yet another chance to shine (if we can get the toxic waste crowd to hold their fire and stick to the assigned topic).
    As a man, I realize that my perspective on abortion is limited, but I can relate a story that is germane. It turns out that, coincidentally, I am currently learning how to do ultrasounds in my office. I practice rural general internal medicine in Marion and have been out of residency for 14 years so this is my first attempt to really update my practice style to keep up with the next generation. I took an introductory weekend course in March and have a portable machine (which is amazingly compact-about the size of a laptop computer) that the USC School of Medicine has loaned to me.
    A few weeks ago, I was in the ER talking to one of my colleagues about his experience with ultrasound and he said, “I’ve got a woman in the OB room who is 8 to 10 weeks pregnant. Would you like to do a quick-look ultrasound on her.” I jumped at the chance.
    The patient, a twentysomething, had come to the ER with vaginal bleeding, which is a common complaint in first trimester pregnancies (which can be legally aborted). The bleeding was only minor and she appeared calm, but in this setting a quick-look ultrasound, which confirms that the fetus appears normal, reassures both patient and doctor.
    Since I am not an OB/GYN, this is not an exam I am training to do, but I figured any experience would be useful. I am familiar with OB ultrasounds from medical school and my own two children and knew what I would likely see. Also, a few months ago I visited “The Bodies” exhibition in Atlanta which had an unforgettable display of aborted fetuses of ascending gestation.
    All this is to say that I should have been prepared for what I was going to see. Yet when I put the probe on the patient’s abdomen and immediately saw the fetus (which even at 8-10 weeks is clearly human) my heart leapt. I was astonished at how beautiful and compelling the image was. It’s difficult to communicate the wave of emotions I felt as I watched that child’s heart flicker. This was no fuzzy image; it was clear and powerful. My relief was palpable; Mom, your baby’s OK.
    The decision to have an abortion is gut-wrenching. I doubt any woman ever makes it without some ambivalence. Conflicting emotions ebb and flow; I suspect that for most woman it is a murky, uncertain, half desperate time.
    The problem with the ultrasound image is it makes the decision that much harder. The fragile, guilt-ridden choice made amidst a swirl of emotion comes up against this riveting real-time picture-my baby, flesh of my flesh, limbs moving, heart beating, my new son or daughter-not a shapeless, disposable mass of cells that could be discarded like a moldy Petri dish.
    In any other situation, we seek out the images that inform our medical care. Today at a board meeting, a colleague who recently had heart bypass surgery described his fascination as his cardiologist explained the video images of his coronary arteries projected on the monitor of the catheterization lab. What does it tell us that with every other medical procedure, we want to see what we look like inside, but abortion proponents tell us in this case it is better not to look?

  27. ed

    Exactly so Doc. Only I don’t think that the fact that the ultrasound will make the decision harder is a problem. I think it is a very good thing that it does so. This society shamefully requires that we take much better care of cats and dogs than we do of unborn babies, and it is high time that the decision to abort be raised a little above the level of paper or plastic. A woman considering abortion ought to be made to consider all aspects of what she contemplates…and if ultrasound images heighten the unrest in her heart and raise doubts in her mind, good. This is only as it should be for a decision with eternal consequences. Ed

  28. Paul DeMarco

    You mischaracterize me. I see women as equals. My wife, a master’s prepared nurse, could confirm this. And I agree that abortion is, in the final analysis, the pregnant woman’s decision.
    It should be obvious from what I wrote that I empathize with how difficult the choice to have an abortion must be.
    But why would you not want to view an ultrasound? If you have fully reckoned with the consequences of your decision, it should only confirm that you have chosen well. But if you can’t bear to even look at the life you are about to end, are you really making a wise, well-reasoned decision?
    We ask physicians to obtain full informed consent for even the simplest medical procedure. A patient is expected to be informed of the pros and cons of the procedure and any possible complications.
    But when a woman has an abortion, a procedure that has terminal consequences for the fetus and potentially heavy emotional consequences for the mother, informed consent is suddenly optional.
    I don’t think parents who are considering aborting a child can fully understand the nature of what they are doing until they view an ultrasound of that child. This is truly a case where a picture is worth a thousand words.

  29. Dave

    Paul, you have articulated exactly what the abortion advocates are so afraid to have happen. That is, lose potential customers. As abortion counts gradually decrease, the quick and easy money is getting more difficult to make. Abortioners focus on those few very difficult and painful life or death decisions where a 15 year old has been impregnated by a relative, but the truth is the vast majority of abortions are repeated procedures for promiscuous idiots who have no moral compass, prostitutes, and the like.

  30. Claudia

    While I wish Mary would add a little Zen to her posts, she can make valid points. The legislation being discussed in the Senate medical subcommittee as I type these comments is about USING THE FORCE OF LAW TO COMPEL a women to look at an ultrasound image. Whether you believe that abortion should be legal or not, whether or not it makes sound medical sense to examine those images prior to the abortion, whether or not you believe that victims of rape and incest should be exempt from this potential and probable law, this bill is ill thought out, self-righteous, likely ineffective, and wrong.

  31. Claudia

    wellllll…. there was around 9:30 this morning when I posted the above comment… what’s up with that, anyway???

  32. Susan

    I believe that women should have the right to choose.
    1. It is ‘our’ body.
    2. No woman should have to carry a child in the case of rape, incest or various other types of force.
    3. There are some people who will exert their will upon others who are emotionally weaker.
    4. There are others who exert physical strength against the sometimes weaker female.

  33. Susan

    I believe that women should have the right to choose.
    1. It is ‘our’ body.
    2. No woman should have to carry a child in the case of rape, incest or various other types of force.
    3. There are some people who will exert their will upon others who are emotionally weaker.
    4. There are others who will exert physical strength against the often weaker female.
    5.There may be mental, physical, spiritual and financial reasons to justify an abortion.
    6. There are often more than 3 sides to this issue.

  34. Brad Warthen

    Claudia, Mary is a troll who enjoys the distinction of being the only person ever banned permanently from this blog. I tried making it conditional for awhile — allowing "her" through when behaving. I even tried offering suggestions. But "Mary" had so little regard for the rest of us that I made it permanent.

    He — we believe it is a he, but there’s no telling — uses the pseudonym of another famous sneak. Famous in the Blogosphere, anyway. In other words, "Mary," whose signature style is to trash everyone else’s courage, integrity and intelligence, doesn’t have the nerve to use his own name, and is utterly lacking in originality.

    He/she still tries repeatedly to post vitriol on the blog in defiance of the ban — about seven times in the past 24 hours alone. So sometimes this most non-Zen of voices appears momentarily, then vanishes.

  35. bud

    Is it better for the woman to decide on behalf of her child that child’s fate. Or is it better for the government to decide. There are only 2 choices. Brad suggests it’s not a good idea for the mother alone to decide, a sort of decision by committee, but that’s really nothing more than a convaluted way of saying the government should decide. In the end abortion is either legal (the mother decides) or it’s not (government decides). (Lee suggests the fetus should decide. But that’s just Lee).

  36. Brad Warthen

    Actually, Claudia, make that TEN times in the past 24 hours. I expect to see more attempts before the day is over.
    It’s a strange case, made more so by the fact that ANYBODY can start a blog at any time, for free, and say whatever they please. And yet “Mary” continues trying post here — and does so all the more adamantly because it is forbidden.
    Perhaps I should take it as what “Mary” would never, ever intend it to be — a compliment. Apparently, no blog will do but mine. Why, I have no idea.

  37. Claudia

    I knew that Mary had been banned – and that s/he used a pseudonym – but when I saw the post I thought maybe you’d let her/im back in. Too bad s/he’s got such a psst-off streak… there is some real intelligence in amongst all that fury.
    As for the use of a “nom de blog”, as one of our compatriots dubbed it, so far no one’s slashed my tires since I emerged from the Lily closet, but I’m still a bit antsy about using my own name. There are some seriously crazy people in our world… I hope I didn’t make a big mistake!

  38. ed

    Good ol’ Mary…as dependable as Old Faithful and as inexorable as April 15th. Mary can ALWAYS be depended upon for an obscure rant about Brads’ unwillingness to volunteer for anything and for the fact that he didn’t go to Viet Nam. I don’t get exactly how she knows these things for a certainty, but she apparently believes that she does and that’s good enough for our Mary. Gee Mary, tell us again how we get a dollar fifteen back for every eighty cents we send to Washington, woncha? We haven’t heard that one in a while, and your incessant hen-pecking at Brad has reminded me what we’ve been missing.

  39. Paul DeMarco

    I understand you reasons for banning Mary, but I wish you had left her comment up that discussed whose perspective is the right one on abortion. It was innocuous and helps us get to the heart of the matter.
    Essentially Mary chided those who favor mandatory ultrasounds as trying to impose their perspective on the mother.
    But perspective is not the issue. My perspective as your neighbor may be that I can shoot your cat with rifle if he walks in my yard because I don’t like cats and it’s no big deal. My perspective as a surgeon may be that I don’t need to obtain informed consent for this procedure I’m about to perform on you because I’ve done it a thousand times and it’s no big deal. My perspective as your teenage son may be that casual sex with multiple partners is fun and ego-boosting and no big deal.
    But we would all recognize those perspectives as poor ones.
    What about the perspective that abortion simply evacuates a shapeless mass of cells from a woman’s uterus and is no big deal?
    The issue is not perspective but truth. What is truly happening when a woman decides to end the life of the child inside her? An ultrasound can only enhance a woman’s understanding of that truth. It may be a difficult, unwanted truth, but the ultrasound image does not lie. If you can’t see your baby’s image and watch his or her heart flicker before you end its life, then you aren’t fully aware of tragic nature of the choice you are making.
    I’m a middle aged physician who knew what I was going to see, but I was still gripped by some recent ultrasound images of an 8 to 10 week fetus in the ER. I suspect that most women considering abortion have no mental picture of what an abortion does.
    I understand that it might be easier for a woman to have an abortion if she doesn’t analyze what is occurring. It preserves her perspective. It does little for the truth.

  40. Brad Warthen

    You’re right, Paul. And Mary added nothing to that; “her” perspective was mere cant. It was intellectually dishonest, and imputed unfairness to you that was unjust. It was a mild, but nevertheless characteristic, example of why he/she never added anything of value.
    But lots of people add nothing of value; Mary is gone because of the malice that underlay every comment. Mary is the self-selected example of the principle that no one who remains anonymous has any rights on this blog. Mary had every chance — a ridiculous number of chances — to avoid being that example. But Mary spat on opportunities — still does, in the comments I’m unpublishing — and embraced exile. Again, a function of that malice.
    Anyway, back to your point. You say something that I once heard stated fairly well by someone of the “pro-choice” persuasion, who stated it in demonstrating that he understood my position. He said the essential weakness in the “pro-choice” assertion is that it doesn’t work. Just substitute some other morally objectionable action for abortion. He put it this way, “It’s like saying, I am deeply opposed to lynching; but I don’t have the right to stand in the way of YOUR right to choose to lynch someone.”
    In other words, it’s not just a matter of “perspective.” Some things are right; some things are wrong. Argue about which is which if you like. But the right answer is there somewhere. The only bogus answer is to say it’s just a matter of your perspective.

  41. Paul DeMarco

    Careful. I have up until this point not stated my position, which is a complex one.
    You assumed that I support criminalizing abortion when I actually do not.
    Abortion is a painful, difficult, sad decision which I believe best belongs to a woman and her doctor.
    There are too many variables to legislate. Although I believe convenience abortion is wrong, banning it would mean banning other abortions that I believe are acceptable, in a lesser of two evils way.
    My guide is the health of the mother. I have young women in my practice with lupus, sickle cell anemia, hepatitis C, mental retardation, hypertension or obesity, all of whom would be exposed to various levels of risk to their health or even life if they were forced to endure an unintended pregnancy.
    The life and health of the mother trumps the life of the fetus in most physicians’ medical and ethical training.
    I do believe it is acceptable, however, for governments to bring abortion out of the shadows and ensure women who undergo abortion are informed fully and treated safely.
    I would favor all abortions being done in hospitals where it would be easier to ensure quality services. It would also allow physicians to better study the abortion process and the women who undergo them. As we learn more about the women and the circumstances that engender abortion we might be able to minimize the physical and emotional consequences of abortion and to prevent future abortions.
    That’s my interest in ultrasound; I’m not trying to punish the mother or make abortion illegal. But I really do believe an ultrasound informs her decision.
    Your argument smacks of tactics that the NRA and similar groups use. Sensible regulation of guns is opposed with the cry “they want to ban all guns,” and sensible regulation of abortions is resisted in the same way.
    I’m not even interested in forcing a woman to see her ultrasound image. As a women’s physician and advocate, it would be awkward and pointless to show her a picture she doesn’t want to see. But that not wanting to see speaks volumes about the kind of procedure that abortion is. Abortion advocates and foes need to try to find some common ground and work together to reduce the scandalous number of children who are aborted each year.
    Please consider leaving the comment of Mary’s to which I’m responding posted. I think we’re plowing some fertile ground. It’s so rare that one can engage in substantive discussion on this issue.

  42. Claudia

    A thoughtful and valuable post. Thank you for sharing your position… I hope to read more from you on this subject.

  43. Dave

    The abortion advocates believe that simply requiring good medical practice in having the “patient” view an ultra-sound is somehow offensive to the woman. In the secular religion of abortion, it is OK to kill babies but not OK to look at them first. Somewhere in Germany last week, a German judge threw out a domestic abuse case because the religion of Islam permits wife beating. Islam, Abortion, two so-called religions with commonalities. And a side note, who was it that said the Europeans are somehow more civil than we Americans.

  44. Paul DeMarco

    Claudia and Mary,
    I’m going to include Mary’s deleted post because I’d like to refer to it:
    Mary said:
    “Paul, what you want to do if you want to respond to something of mine and you want to preserve it from WATB Warthen’s inability to abide people that don’t give sufficient deference to his viewpoint, is to preserve the post yourself and paste it into your own post when you want to respond to it.
    If there’s some real medical reason to take an ultrasound, that changes things quite a bit. But I’m not seeing any real medical reason from your latest explanation, and your various regulations that you advocate still don’t appear to me to have much point other than to burden women seeking abortion. Providing abortion in clinics makes access to abortion more convenient; would restricting it to hospitals really improve the quality of services? And isn’t there already a huge body of information about abortion; why do we need to move it into hospitals; why can’t anyone who wants to just analyze the body of data that is already available?
    “As we learn more about the women and the circumstances that engender abortion we might be able to minimize the physical and emotional consequences of abortion and to prevent future abortions.”
    We already know all that stuff, or at least we have the data available; all we have to do is analyze the data. And I know one way to reduce the emotional consequences of abortion. Shut down the abortion guilt industry – the huge number of anti-abortion advocates who are constantly telling women they’re supposed to feel bad about having an abortion. Some wonen are going to feel bad about having an abortion; for some of them, it isn’t the right choice and support should be available to everyone so that they can make the choice that’s right for them. For some women, abortion is the right choice for them, but they will nevertheless feel bad about it. For some women, abortion is the right choice, and they would feel OK about it, except that there are all these shrieking harpies telling them how horrible they are for having an abortion. You shut that down, and that improves women’s emotional well-being quite a bit, I think.
    You still haven’t told me what forcing women to view an ultrasound “informs” them of, other than your philosophical viewpoint. And if the woman doesn’t want to see the ultrasound, and you don’t forcer her to look at it, what’s the point of making it?”
    On a previous post, Mary came at me with guns blazing, claiming that I didn’t see women as equals and that I viewed them simply as passive incubators of children. She had assumed from my posts on ultrasound that I support criminalizing abortion. When I told her that I did not, her demeanor changed completely.
    Mary’s change in tone is emblematic of the difficulty with this issue. More than any other, the issue of abortion shuns middle ground. The reason is obvious; the child either lives or dies-you can’t split the baby.
    But there is some common ground to strive for. Only the most strident abortion supporter would refuse to acknowledge that ideally abortion would never be needed. And only the most virulent abortion opponent would be unable to recognize the vulnerability and desperation that women face when pregnant with an unwanted child.
    So here are some things I think that both sides of the abortion debate (which I believe are much closer than portrayed in the media) can agree on:
    1) Abortion is an unwanted outcome, and is almost always preventable. With just a modicum of forethought an a buck for a condom, or a free visit to the health department for birth control pills, abortion becomes irrelevant. Yes, condoms break and birth control fails but I suspect if that with just a little attention 80-90% of abortions could be prevented.
    2) Abortion is sad. The emotion that dominates this debate is contempt for the opposition, when a more appropriate response would be a gnawing shared sadness that so many women choose abortion.
    3) Neither side is well represented. The public face of the abortion debate gives us the most polar of extremes. But all of us know that abortion is not the same as a dermatologist removing a mole. All of us can feel that in our bones. Look at how happy we are to welcome a wanted pregnancy, how miraculous it feels, how much expectation we have. The failure of the abortion supporters to acknowledge the unmistakable loss that abortion produces is a major obstruction to dialogue.
    Abortion opponents make the same mistake by calling women who seek abortion murderers. I suspect that if those same people sat with a women preparing for abortion in the waiting room of a clinic, they would not see her that way. They might still disagree with the choice she was making, might still try to convince her to change her mind, but I doubt they would still view her as a murderer.
    I wish there was a third choice in the public abortion debate (another plank for the UnParty platform). Currently we must choose between the yin and yang of NARAL and National Right to Life. The NARAL website makes claims like : “Since that time (of the Roe v. Wade decision), the anti-choice movement has worked furiously to dismantle it – with the ultimate goal of overturning the decision altogether.”). The National Right to Life website counters: “Planned Parenthood is a business and abortion is one of its biggest products.” These groups seem to feed on the hatred they stir up for those one the opposing side.
    What’s needed is for both sides to channel their energies into reducing the number of abortions rather than bashing each other.
    BTW, Claudia, you are a breath of fresh air on this blog. I hope you continue posting.

  45. Claudia

    Why, thank you Paul… I like you, too… (simper, simper!!)But really, all kidding aside, I come and go on this blog because so many of the postings I read here leave me thunderstruck to the point of just not wanting to engage the writer in any kind of discussion. But I always come back because there are folks here that I disagree with but also respect, and I believe the only way I can avoid becoming as narrow-minded as some of these authors is to consider ideas opposite my own. I hope you will read my reply to your last post on the “Classy Disagreement” thread… it’s a dialogue we could continue here or there. Maybe some of the other guys can set the virulence aside for awhile and join in.

  46. Lee

    Abortion is a big money-making business, subsidized by tax money. They are not making academic arguments here. Real sex education and real birth control would put them out of business.

  47. Lee

    Roe v Wade was one item which helped make unwed motherhood more acceptable. That is hardly a step forward for society.
    The result today is that 70% of black children are born out of wedlock, 48% of black men have never been married but have fathered at least one child, and most of those children live in poverty directly because of not having married parents.

  48. bud

    He put it this way, “It’s like saying, I am deeply opposed to lynching; but I don’t have the right to stand in the way of YOUR right to choose to lynch someone.”
    What an example? How about cigartte smoking, loud music or masturbation? You could be opposed to those things without standing in the way of others to choose. Try again Brad, that argument is very weak.

  49. Edward C. Eiland

    “Pro-choice” my ass. Jesus is watching each of you who would advocate/encourage/allow the SATANIC RITE of MURDERING AN UNBORN BABY, here in the Last Days when supernatural evil is progressively turned (as pre-ordained by the Creator) loose on the earth, as per the prophecies. You satanic baby-killers (choice my ass) will stand DIRECTLY before Him (and do even now, as He watches you, every moment: bad Karma, baby)), just before you are thrown into hell.
    He’s invisible (for now). Talk DIRECTLY to Him (to hell with the “legal “system, which is supposed to originate with God anyway, and with satanic organized “religion” and its false priestcraft, which lets this satanic crap go on.). Or don’t talk to Him- THAT IS A “CHOICE” YOU CAN MAKE, ONCE MADE AWARE OF THAT CHOICE., as I have just done here.

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