A thought-provoking note from SC Citizens for Life

Still catching up with my e-mail…

I got this message from Holly Gatling in response to this post:

Dear Brad,

Do you have a marriage license?  A piece of paper you were willing to sign your name to as a statement of commitment?

That’s the difference between Sheheen and Haley.  Haley put her name on a statement of the agenda of South Carolina Citizens for Life and Sheheen declined.  How sad.

And why is there such hatred across this land for conservative, pro-life, Republican women?  The misogyny is grossly apparent.  Conservative, pro-life women are the greatest threat in politics today to the abortion industry, the greatest destroyer of human life on the planet.

We’re in this economic crisis because 50 million members of the human family have been wiped out by abortion.  That’s 50 million members of a tax-paying workforce and ALL their progeny.

I urge and encourage you to THINK with the body part men and women share equally — the brain.

Committed candidate v. undecided. The choice is clear.

Your friend,

Holly Gatling, Executive Director
South Carolina Citizens for Life

I appreciate my friend Holly — we worked together at the paper years ago — taking the time to respond. Here are some thoughts that her note generates for me:

  • Regarding the marriage license analogy: It makes the very good point that Vincent does not want to be married to S.C. Citizens for Life — a fact that has nothing to do with his own convictions as a Catholic. Vincent wants to work with everybody — Republicans, pro-choice Democrats, Zoroastrians should any show up at the State House — on issues having nothing to do with abortion. So why should he want to draw a bright line that says I’m one of these good people over here, and you’re one of those bad people over there? Which is the purpose of such endorsements, from the perspective of a Nikki Haley. Nikki wants to make sure everyone knows she’s on THIS side and therefore against THOSE people. And as long as she accomplishes that, she’s happy. As someone who presided for years over an editorial board that was sharply divided on abortion, I never tried to force us to take a position on it, for two reasons: It did not bear upon the issues that were important to moving South Carolina forward (which is what we were about), and it would have been foolish to create ill will on the board that would have spilled over into areas where, if we could achieve consensus, we might be able to make a difference. I wrote a column on the subject once. So I understand Vincent’s position, even if Holly doesn’t.
  • Who has “hatred” toward “conservative, pro-life, Republican women?” Certainly not I, and I would challenge anyone to demonstrate the opposite. And if they go looking for such women whom I “hate,” they’ll definitely have to look for someone other than Nikki Haley. Yeah, I’ve been pretty appalled at some of the things I’ve learned about her the last few months, but my one big beef is that she’d be disastrous for South Carolina as governor. That could be said about a lot of women — and men — against who I hold no malice. I really don’t know where that statement in the note comes from.
  • Finally, THINK is exactly what I’m urging people to do in this election. That, in fact, was all I was saying back before the primary in this post (“Don’t vote with your emotions, people. THINK!,” June 6), which some thought was way harsh on Nikki. But all I was saying was, THINK before you vote. Don’t base your vote on such emotional nonsense as being excited that she’s an Indian-American woman (or that she’s a “conservative, pro-life, Republican woman”), any more than you should be excited that Vincent is the first Catholic, and the first Lebanese-American, to win a major-party nomination for governor in this state. Still less should you vote because of the ENTIRELY irrelevant fact that you don’t like Barack Obama, which has absolutely zero to do with who should govern this state. THINK. Please, it’s all I want.

Mind you, in the past I have praised SC Citizens for Life for THINKing rather than going with the emotional flow, such as in this column on Feb. 7, 1996:

The endorsement of Jean Toal by S.C. Citizens for Life last week constituted one of those little epiphanies that have the potential to enlighten public life, if only we would pay attention.

In this case, the lesson to be learned was this:
The terms “liberal” and “conservative,” as they are popularly used today, serve virtually no useful purpose. They help not at all in the increasingly onerous task of meeting the challenges that face us in the political sphere. In fact, they often get in the way.
The Toal endorsement, while making perfect sense to the objective observer, momentarily demolished the world view of self-described “liberals” and “conservatives” as surely as Galileo messed with the heads of the geocentric crowd. “Conservatives” lost their cozy view of there being two kinds of people — Christians and “liberals.” Meanwhile, “liberals” couldn’t quite bring themselves to celebrate the endorsement because having common cause with those “conservative” right-to-lifers makes them queasy.
It’s nice to see nonsense knocked on its rear end.

My purpose at the time was to contrast the good sense demonstrated by Holly’s organization, as opposed to the mindlessness of her frequent allies among “conservative” Republicans who wanted to boot Justice Toal for the sin of being a Democrat (and therefore, in their small minds, a “liberal,” a word they use with all the thoughtfulness, subtlety and understanding of the mob crying “Witch!” in Monty Python’s “Holy Grail”).

My point then, as now: THINK.

67 thoughts on “A thought-provoking note from SC Citizens for Life

  1. Doug Ross

    Considering the demographics of women who choose abortion is it really clear that those aborted children would likely become net tax contributors? I don’t think so.

  2. Abba

    I don’t understand Ms. Gatling’s statement that “the misogyny is obvious.” It’s not obvious in the least to me; indeed, I cannot even figure out what she means. Does she mean that Senator Sheheen hates Republican women and is a misogynist because he declined to sign a statement she wrote for him? Or does she mean that Brad is a misogynist because he disagreed with her about something? There are plenty of folks who think that those who want the government to interfere and make women’s decisions for them are the ones showing a contempt for women and, therefore, are misogynistic. And to blame abortion for the Great Recession, as Ms. Gatling apparently does, is ridiculous. You are exactly right here, Brad — let’s focus the vote for governor on what is best for SC and leave all the shrill accusations on other stuff out of it.

  3. Tom Fillinger

    This seems like a fairly simple task. Ask Mr. Shaheen to sign an unambiguous pro-life statement.

    The statement contains a clear declaration that life begins at conseption and is a human being with full protection under the law.

    The staement contains a clear declaration that he will veto any policy or initiative that in any way threatens the life of the unborn.

    I will be happy to develop those statements if mr. Shaheen is willing to sign them.

    It is pure hypocrisy to say as many have that you personally believe in a pro-life position but will not execute that while in public office. Then you quite clearly are not pro-life. I can be contacted at info@igniteus.net Mr. Shaeen. I await your contact and the opportunity to serve life with you.

  4. Pat

    A signature on a piece of paper is only as good as the one who signs it. I would far prefer to look at one’s history to assign trust. I also think it’s bothersome that your friend Holly equates it to a marriage vow; it makes it sound like they are joined at the hip forever more and not just on this one issue. Doesn’t sound like a marriage made in heaven to me.

  5. Ralph Hightower

    Holly Gatling has a huge gaping hole in her logic.

    She blames the current economic crisis because there were 50 million taxpayers removed from the “system”.

    That belief is a major fallacy in her logic. There are just not enough jobs for everyone that wants to work.

    Perhaps Holly believes Joe “You Lie” Wilson (R-SC) when he says “Joe Means Jobs!”. Does she think a snap of the fingers and a twinkle of the nose, will instantly create 50 million jobs? Holly Gatlin and Joe Wilson believe that Samantha Stephens (Elizabeth Montgomery) was real in that she could make things happen in “Bewitched” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihuQFnuxhkY.

    I wish that there was a job for every American for their skill level. But that just ain’t going to happen!

    I’ve been unemployed and it has been difficult to find jobs creating computer programs. Brad, you’ve experienced unemployment and you know how difficult it is to find another job. Flipping burgers or collecting unemployment is no substitute for knowledge-based skills.

  6. Kathryn Fenner

    It is not hypocrisy to make one decision personally but not believe it is right to impose your decision on others.

    It’s like gay marriage–I don’t intend to have one, but I see no harm in allowing others to do so.

    and, dude, if you’re an anti-abortion activist, learn to spell “conception” and the cnadidates’ names.

  7. jfx

    What? We’re in this economic crisis because of…abortion? Goodness, what a screed. You don’t have to be a misogynist to loathe such irrational gibberish.

    By the way…Tom…it’s “Sheheen”. Not “Shaheen”. If you are going to try to lure the man into your kulturkampf punji pit, you’ll want to get his name right. Otherwise he may suspect you to be an imprecise zealot trying inartfully to set a trap, instead of an informed, helpful citizen offering constructive advice.

  8. Nick Nielsen

    @Tom, would it not be better to work for a world where abortion is an obsolete concept than to require the signing of statements?

  9. Mark Stewart

    So the economy would be miraculously, implicitly better with “50 million” more citizens? Now there’s some fuzzy logic.

    What about the idea that if there were 50 million abortions then a real need must be being met? 50 million though; sounds like she’s throwing in miscarriages as well. And that’s not fair to anyone at all.

    I do find the whole self-rigteousness that infects this topic to be so tiresome. The entire pro-life mantra is full of double standards. When y’all are ready to adequetly take care of all the children we have in this country, then I will be more open to these arguements. Let’s start there.

  10. martin

    Why is anyone trying to respond rationally to a really bizarre statement? The last paragraph is straight from lala land.

    Thought provoking note? becoming obsessed with something is not good for your mental health.

  11. Tom Fillinger

    To Kathyrn Fenner – It is called schizophrenia – speaking out of both sides of your mouth.

    Also, what you or I think is not the measure of TRUTH. TRUTH is absolute and determined by an epistemology that is transcendent. I respect and defend your right to hold a perspective on any given issue. Because you do does not make it viable, credible or TRUE.

  12. Kathryn Fenner

    Freakonomics posited that the dramatic drop in crime in the 90s was a result of the increase in legal abortion and thus the decrease in unwanted children who frequently otherwise went on to become criminals.

  13. Brad

    I have not yet read the book, but I’m familiar with that assumption, and I think it’s a reasonable one.

    And doesn’t that make your blood run cold?

    I’ve always gotten a really creepy feeling from the fact that all that talk about making “safe abortions readily available to poor women” can be seen as a convenient euphemism for “let’s make it legal and easy to kill the undesirables before they are born” — and never mind that you also kill people who do NOT become criminals. After all, you’ve excused yourself from responsibility. YOU’RE not doing it. YOU’RE not “pro-abortion.” You’re delegating responsibility to the almighty, godlike individual woman, who is delegated to make this decision at one of the most stressful, emotional moments in her life. No, you’re not doing it. You’re just advocating policies that guarantee that it will happen.

    Now before you have a fit over me accusing you of all sorts of wicked machinations, don’t imagine for a moment that I think you are conscious of all this. How you cannot be, I don’t know. Some sort of self-hypnosis must be involved. But I truly believe that you are not.

    But as I said, how that process of rationalization works, I don’t know. I know the arguments. I could recite them perfectly. I could do a really good impression of a pro-choice person. The difference is that I would be acting, and wouldn’t believe for a second in my performance. I wouldn’t find anything I was saying persuasive.

  14. Pat

    This current dialogue is really digressing. —
    I wish that all women who became pregnant did so by choice and wanted to carry them to term. I wish there were no abortion clinics – it seems like such a seedy business for a doctor to be in.
    I have had 3 women confide to me that they had an abortion – 2 of them were married and both already had 3 children. The third was a young women who said she was gang raped.
    I also know a woman who had a complicated pregnancy – a condition that I don’t know the name of in which the cells of the baby were multiplying at a rapid rate. The obstetrician wanted to abort the baby because he said the condition always kills the baby and if the pregnancy was allowed to continue, the mother would surely die. It was a challenging and trying time for the parents – both active in pro-life. Their minister was also active in pro-life, but he encouraged them to do what was best for the mother. Still, they waited and God was gracious – the baby died without them having to make this decision, and the doctor then took the baby.
    I say all this to emphasize this is a complicated issue in which there is no silver bullet. It sounds very simplistic to say just outlaw it. The conversation touched on what charges to bring on the woman if it were against the law. But now, if a baby is born with evidence of illegal drugs in its system, a woman is already subject to charges – this gives the pre-born baby legal status. If the woman is on methadone, I have recently learned, no charges are brought.
    Rather than a supposed silver bullet, I would rather see our society as one that supports life with jobs, education, health care, and, yes, regulation (to the extent necessary for safety and fairness).
    The person who is going to be our governor will face great challenges and will need to do so with much wisdom and prayer. Our governor will need to be focused on bringing stability back to our state and help us to a path that will bring well-being to all our citizens. We need a governor who will be able to grasp a wide-range of issues and provide leadership and motivation in those areas to stop the bickering and credit-taking in order to get a job done. The ideal governor would also provide a good example of integrity, morality, and character. At least this is what I’m praying for.

  15. Kathryn Fenner

    and Brad, I do not cede that abortion is killing any thing other than a fetus–a clump of cells with the possibility of becoming an independent life. Until viability, this parasitic clump of cells can have no “life” independent of the host body.

    I guess I’m *thinking* and not getting all sentimental about cuddly-wuddly babykins.

    or is every sperm sacred?

  16. scout

    I have started and stopped and rewritten and deleted comments for this thread several times. I do not have a problem with Vincent not signing this statement but being personally pro-life. Like Kathryn and Brad, I see no conflict there and respect that it gives him more options working with everyone in the state. I am perplexed by this woman’s statement that abortion has caused the economic crisis. I guess it theoretically is possible that there would be more tax payers but there also would be more people to support and the system is already maxed out. I’m thinking it would be more of a wash or an increased burden, personally. But that is all really irrelevant to the discussion. I am so conflicted on this issue. Personally I am so pro-life, but I know it is far more complex than just me. I know that the quality of life of an unwanted child or a child of poverty is abysmal – I’ve seen both up close. I know it would be convenient to say the woman made the choice when she decided to have sex and I agree with that as far as it goes, but I also know in reality there are situations where choice was not involved, quite possibly more often than we’d like to believe, and even then, does that make it ok to kill a child – No. I would like to see more energy focused on preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place and on providing help/counseling/support etc. for struggling mothers after the children are born. But ultimately I find it hard to judge someone when I haven’t been in their shoes. I know there are some really bad situations. Though I would never ever have an abortion, I’ve never been able to commit completely to one position or the other. I am conflicted. I do not want abortions to happen but I refuse to demonize those who would have them.

  17. bud

    Brad, why do you keep bringing this abortion issue up? I find your arguments, illogical, irrational, un-persuasive, incomplete, selective, wrong-headed, immoral and downright un-American. And I suspect you feel the same way about my arguments. This is just an issue where no one is going to be convinced.

  18. Brad

    No, Bud, I think your position is eminently American. Any time anyone waves the banner of “choice,” they are being extremely American. To again cite Austin Powers, “It’s Freedom, baby! Yeah…” (OK, so Austin Powers isn’t American, but he states the case well.)

    And that’s the problem. I have this general rule of thumb — people wave the “choice” banner whenever they are trying to defend the indefensible. It means the thing they’re advocating has nothing to recommend it on its own, so they have to portray it as a matter of “choice.” That goes for killing the unborn as well as diverting public money for private schools. Bad ideas, so the advocates cry “choice!”

    I’ve often tried to think of a GOOD idea that uses “choice” (essentially, wraps itself in the ideological flag) as its main mantra. But I don’t know of one.

  19. Doug Ross

    “I’ve often tried to think of a GOOD idea that uses “choice” (essentially, wraps itself in the ideological flag) as its main mantra. But I don’t know of one.”

    How about choosing to invade Iraq? If there ever was a choice that was wrapped up in ideology, that one fits the bill. And I believe you thought that was a GOOD idea.

  20. bud

    If ever there was a presidential decision that history has proven to be a bad one it’s the Iraq invasion. Hopefully we can finally learn something from history. Those of us that understand what actually happened need to remind folks about the deaths, dollar cost, Abu-Ghraib, prevailing poverty in Iraq, mental health problems among our service men and women and, most importantly, the continued threat from terrorists. Given the utter, utter lack of any concrete accomplishment who in thier right mind could consider this anything but a total failure.

  21. Brad

    … which is Bud’s way of saying I’m not in my right mind. Thanks, Bud.

    And thanks, Doug, for helping me make my point. It’s OPPONENTS of the Iraq invasion who call it a “war of choice,” not the advocates.

    This is interesting, because by doing so, they imply that they understand that they are denigrating and degrading the pro-invasion argument by applying “choice” to it. Mind you, some of the same folks think “choice” is a great way to dress up their position on abortion.

    Ironies abound…

  22. Brad

    And yeah, I realize the dynamics between one use of “choice” and the other are not the same. Essentially, the Iraq opponents are saying that war is one area in which “choice” should not apply. They’re saying that one should fight only when forced to do so (if then), and if you have a choice, it should always be NOT to fight — which means you have no choice. But then we get back on track, because as it happens, I believe abortion is an area in which “choice” should not apply. They and I are making the same argument: That there are certain things that no one should be allowed to choose…

  23. Kathryn Fenner

    One of Karen’s questions was along the lines of “If abortion is murder/homicide, should we prosecute the woman who voluntarily gets one?”

  24. Doug Ross


    We should fight when we (or our allies) are attached. We should not engage in pre-emptive wars or wars with an objective other than to protect the citizens of the United States from

    Bush/Cheney made the choice to take war to Iraq even if it meant fabricating evidence to do so. They wanted to abort Sadaam Hussein.

    Just like there is some disagreement over when life begins (and I believe it is at conception), there was a similar disagreement over just how much of a threat Iraq was to the U.S. The general consensus has been that Iraq was a misguided mission handled poorly.

  25. bud

    I believe wars against non-threatening nations should not be a choice available to a president. Wars should always require a declaration by congress. That wouldn’t prevent all stupid wars but it might prevent some.

  26. Maude Lebowski

    “I’ve often tried to think of a GOOD idea that uses “choice” (essentially, wraps itself in the ideological flag) as its main mantra. But I don’t know of one.”

    Gun rights
    Private property

    “there are certain things that no one should be allowed to choose…”

    I suppose that’s the primary purpose of the Supreme Court: to decide, based upon the Constitution, what those things are.

    Your argument that the pregnant woman should have no say because she has the most at stake in the situation completely baffles me.

    As long as the primary reason women have less power in our society than men remains the fact that we carry and deliver babies, I will remain pro-choice.

  27. Brad

    Here’s the problem with discussing abortion: People don’t LISTEN. For instance, Kathryn, if I read the words “If abortion is murder/homicide,” I assume that the question that follows is not addressed to me, since I did not say that. And I believe that in response to Bud, I addressed the “who, if anyone, should be prosecuted” at some length, if THAT is what you intended to ask.

    Similarly, Maude is now the second or third of my commenters (I lose count) to assert, in order to argue with the point, that I said “the pregnant woman should have no say.” What I said was that NO individual should have SOLE authority to decide a matter of life and death (an assertion several light years away from the way Maude has characterized it), and certainly not the person most emotionally/economically interested. You see that? It’s a two-parter: No unilateral decision. and if there WERE a unilateral decision, you would certainly want it to be a disinterested party. But, to return to my point, you shouldn’t have a unilateral decision. I merely add the second point to express just how egregious unilateralism IS in this instance, since the individual in question is so deeply interested.

    I’ll set up my own straw men, thank you very much. You don’t have to invent any for me. I promise, “pro-choicers,” that I will actually SAY many things that will horrify you. Don’t muddy the water by misrepresenting my position.

  28. bud

    Brad, seriously, your explaination to Maude is even more bizarre than her accusation (that you stated that we shouldn’t allow the mother a say in the matter). I am simply at a complete loss as to what you propose we as a people do on this issue beyond a simple, “let’s make it illegal”. That declaration is just not very satisfying. Ok, it’s illegal. There are no penalties. No fines. No jail time. No trial. No lawyers. It’s just illegal. Problem solved.

  29. Kathryn Fenner

    So what is wrong with abortion if it’s not homicide? Better put–what justifies interfering with personal medical decisions, short of preventing homicide?

  30. Brad

    Sorry, but it makes perfect sense to me.

    It’s like banning smoking in bars and restaurants. You don’t see the cops spending a bunch of energy throwing people in jail for smoking in public, do you? Even though it was predicted that it WOULD be a waste of precious police resources.

    No, we just made it against the law. I suppose there ARE penalties, but they don’t seem to loom very large in this picture. But most people obey the law. I know I have’t had to breathe smoke in a restaurant or bar in the past year, and I deeply appreciate it.

    And as I said before, if you make abortion illegal, obviously whatever enforcement effort you DID have would concentrate on the abortionists. The pro-“choicers” just keep bringing “the woman” because that’s the emotional core of their position. But it’s not terribly relevant to any serious effort to enforce such a law.

    First, a law against abortion isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. But if the ridiculous (an overt “right to privacy” in the Constitution? please…) basis of the current state of affairs in case law were to disappear overnight, you know that NO ONE would advocate some sort of criminal campaign of prosecuting women who obtain abortions. You know that, which is why you keep bringing it up, as a way to muster emotional support for your position.

    For that matter, it would be highly unlikely that we’d get the kind of law I would advocate, either. You’d probably see some serious limitations put on abortion — no abortions for young girls without parental involvement, perhaps even a limitation to cases of rape (literal and statutory) and incest. That would be as far as you could possibly go, at the OUTSIDE, if we returned this issue to the political branches where it belongs.

    I know I wouldn’t be happy with the result. And I KNOW I’d get sick and tired of the constant yammering about the issue in political races. It’s bad enough that we let it dominate politics now, when the political branches are so minimally involved.

    But I still believe that this should be settled through the processes of representative democracy, not by one side or the other having a grand slam in the court, which supersedes all (which one side got with Roe v. Wade, and the other side has longed for ever since).

  31. Brad

    I didn’t know it WAS “personal medical decisions.” That’s your terminology, not mine.

    For me, it’s a clear case for the state to step in and act in loco parentis for the sake of the third party.

    Until you stop seeing the fully, genetically unique individual whose life we’re talking about in those terms, and continue to cling to the rationalization that this obviously separate, but completely dependent, individual is the moral equivalent of a tumor, it’s really pointless for us to discuss terms with any hope of arriving at mutual understanding.

    We have simply defined our positions too far away from each other…

  32. jfx

    Holy can o’ worms, Batman. Should the state step in and act in loco parentis if the pregnant woman is seen smoking a cigarette, quaffing a brew, or sumo wrestling?

  33. Mark Stewart

    A primary function of the institution of government throughout history has been the sanctioning of the taking of human life (disregarding for a moment the status of a fetus). It does baffle me how in one instance of this you can be so opposed, while it appears in other cases you tacitly or implicitly approve of this function of government.

    I also find it interesting that you continue to say that the legislative branch should have its say on this issue and not the court. Maybe you are right (although I think that this is exactly the kind of issue a legislature is least able to competently handle which is why our Constitutional structure was implemented); and yet the fact remains that a majority of Americans support the pro-choice perspective.

  34. Maude Lebowski

    “Similarly, Maude is now the second or third of my commenters (I lose count) to assert, in order to argue with the point, that I said ‘the pregnant woman should have no say.'”

    My memory grows worse by the day but I was fairly certain that you had actually made that statement (several times) on this blog. I could be wrong of course and it sure as heck wouldn’t be the first time…

  35. Karen McLeod

    I’ve asked these questions over 2 or 3 sets of posts.
    1) What do you do about ectropic pregnancies? If that zygote is a human being, or should be considered one (the only reason that I can see for trumping a woman’s right to control her own body and what it does automatically, as it were) then the question of killing one innocent to save another, or even making that choice, comes up here.

    2) You keep stating that the woman should not be the person responsible for the decision, because she is so emotionally involved. Does this also apply to “end of life” or emergency situations where a person is on life support (eg. ventilator, or perhaps even a nasogastric tube) and someone else must make the decision whether to with draw that support. That person is usually someone who is involved emotionally and financially. Should they not have the final say?

  36. bud

    Again, I would like to stress that statistically speaking we’re making very good progress in reducing the number of abortions in this country. Seems like the pro-life folks could spend more energy on continuing that positive trend and less on the legality of the procedure. Most European countries have relatively few abortions because they do a good job of birth control. Seems to me not enough attention is focused on that.

  37. David

    My point then, as now: THINK.

    The more I think about the issue of abortion, the more unanswerable the questions become. I find it impossible to come down on either side (if we accept for the moment that this is an issue with two, and only two, clear and distinct sides).

    I wonder if others have reached the same conclusion. I wonder how many people who do take a strong stand one way or the other came to that stance based on what they feel — taking an innocent life just seems so wrong or telling a woman what to do with her body just seems so wrong — with any further thinking on the issue only serving the purpose of validating the conclusion that they reached based on that feeling.

    I will firmly say, however, that abortion means so little to me as a political issue that I find it hard to believe that a group would choose to support one candidate over the other in an important election such as this based solely on one candidate’s willingness to sign a silly statement.

  38. Brad

    David, no doubt about it; there are more than two positions. Which is the problem with Holly’s approach: You’re for us, or against us. The idea that there’s a fellow Catholic who agrees with you that abortion is wrong, but actually wants to be able to work with people who disagree with him on that so that he can get something done on issues that the governor can DO something about, is alien to her.

    But not to Nikki, which makes them a good fit. Nikki just wants to be identified as one of the ideologically correct people, and to hell with ever getting anything done for the betterment of SC.

    Vincent’s position is pretty much the same as mine all those years on The State’s editorial page: We had zero interest in getting bogged down in Kulturkampf litmus test issues that accomplish nothing beyond getting half the population to pat you on the back while making the other half furious… because we wanted to use whatever capital we had to seek pragmatic solutions on problems that we the people of SC can actually do something about. A matter of not wasting one’s ammunition…

  39. Brad

    Oh, and just to lighten things up…

    As y’all may or may not know, “Michael P.,” who was banned from the blog sometime back, still tries to post comments — usually sad insults aimed at me or one of the regular commenters — several times a day.

    Well, today, just before deleting his latest batch as a matter of course, I happened to glance at one, and actually laughed out loud. So, at the risk of encouraging him to keep on wasting the tiny amount of time it takes me to trash all his contributions, I’ll share this one with you:

    “‘loco parentis’??? Who the hell speaks like this?”

  40. Kathryn Fenner

    “For me, it’s a clear case for the state to step in and act in loco parentis for the sake of the third party.”

    If the fetus is an “individual,” then is it not, arguendo, an “individual” human life? The killing of a human is homicide, so by your arguments, abortion is homicide, and should be thus prosecuted. If we start throwing all women who seek abortions in jail–perhaps executing them–I can make a case for capital murder if the fetus is a full human being–I think we’d see how few people actually agree that a fetus is indeed a full human being.
    It’s relatively easy to demonize the doctors who perform a legal medical procedure. If we are serious about how truly awful abortion is, let’s get really serious, then.

    I posit that we as a society do not actually believe that a fetus is a full human being. If so, the rights of a full human being, the pregnant woman, to make autonomous decisions about her body trump.

  41. Doug Ross


    What sort of compromises on abortion does the Vatican support?

    Sheheen’s playing politics with the issue as well. He has to say just enough to keep the conservatives happy without saying too much that will offend the liberals he needs 100% support from.

    Haley’s playing to the base. Sheheen’s playing both sides against the middle. If South Carolina was a blue-r state, that might be a good strategy.

  42. Kathryn Fenner

    @ David–then you are fortunate that, to your knowledge, no one you ever had sex with got pregnant with an unwanted fetus. Given the state of contraception,the only 100% effective method is abstinence–there are even failures of sterilization procedures, including vasectomies.

  43. Brad

    Oh, and as for jfx’s comment (“Should the state step in and act in loco parentis if the pregnant woman is seen smoking a cigarette, quaffing a brew, or sumo wrestling?”)…

    We can get to the first two sometime after we get rid of abortion — say, a century or so later, to take the Martian view of time (according to Heinlein). It would likely take that long for civil society to advance so far.

    As for the third suggestion: women sumo wrestling? How could you even suggest anything so unnatural? It’s bad enough when fat Japanese men do it…

    This comment would of course have a smiley face on it, except I don’t do smiley faces…

  44. Brad

    Oh, come on, Kathryn — as if this Kulturkampf rathole weren’t deep enough, you want to bring up another one?

    If we get started on your assertion that “the only 100% effective method is abstinence,” we’ll never get onto an issue that we can do something about…

  45. jfx

    @Kathryn – you’re on to something there about what we unconsciously qualify as a human being, naturally and as a matter of course. At least most of us.

    Consider, we celebrate “birthdays”. Not “conceptiondays”.

    Perhaps, as a path toward ending most abortions, there can be a deal struck in the form of a pro-life raffle. Every time the government forces a woman to bring an unwanted pregnancy to full term, the name of an ardent pro-lifer is drawn at random out of a hat, and the child is placed into that person’s custody. By law, the biological mother cannot reclaim her child…and, by law, the pro-lifer whose name is drawn cannot refuse it. Fair?

  46. Brad

    Or better yet (and less facetiously), you could give the child to one of those many childless couples clamoring for a healthy child to adopt, and going to great lengths to get them from other states and countries…

  47. Karen McLeod

    I now add a third question: Given some of the crazy things we’ve been hearing this election cycle why do you think, ” that NO ONE would advocate some sort of criminal campaign of prosecuting women who obtain abortions.” I’ve heard much more unreasonably extreme positions this round on various topics. Will ya at least answer one?

  48. David

    Kathryn, what exactly are you getting at? Because obviously everyone would be “fortunate that, to [their] knowledge, no one [they] ever had sex with got pregnant with an unwanted fetus”.

  49. Brad

    And Karen, with regard to your two questions…

    1) I’m sorry, but I thought it was clear that the one exception I would make would be in the case of a credible threat to the mother’s life. I’ve said that so many times that I just sort of assume that people know that’s my position. Doesn’t that cover the hypothetical you raise?

    2) ” You keep stating that the woman should not be the person responsible for the decision, because she is so emotionally involved.” Just to address a matter of nuance — my position is that NO ONE should be able to decide such a thing unilaterally; the fact that the woman is so personally interested just exacerbates the problem of giving ANY individual such godlike power.

    Now, as to your actual question… I don’t see how the situation is analogous. In the case of abortion, you are talking about deliberately intervening with deadly force to end a natural, healthy life process — one that if you don’t intervene, leads to the birth of a baby. We’re debating the ethics of taking that interventionist step.

    In the case of end-of-life issues, we’re talking about ENDING an intervention in a natural life process. The intervention, which itself is ethically debatable — to what extent is it right to keep someone alive artificially by forcing the lungs and heart to keep going when he is, say, brain dead? — has already been embarked on. So the issue is whether to stop intervening and let nature take its course. (For me, the consideration of whether to interfere with natural processes — with what will happen naturally if you do nothing — is a significant one, in both cases.)

    That’s one way in which it is different. Another is that we tend to assume that this is — in the absence of a living will — a collaborative process involving people who are deeply emotionally involved (family members, usually several of them) and disinterested professionals (and at this stage you’re usually talking about more than one physician advising the family). The fact that you do have a number of people involved, usually, makes reaching a decision more difficult. Which is a good thing, in that it’s highly unlikely that a decision to STOP intervening will be taken lightly.

    That leads to another point, which is that here, the emotional involvement of family members tends to work in FAVOR of life rather than against it. Sure, you have some similar emotions against life as in the case of abortion, in that you could have a party or parties to the decision thinking “If this life ends, my troubles/suffering/problems are at an end.” Which is the problem with having the woman with a problem pregnancy make a unilateral decision — the decision is likely to be prejudiced against life. Sort of like having a judge whom you know wants you dead on an emotional level. True, there are powerful ambiguities at work. Most emotionally healthy women would have pretty strong impulses against ending the life within them (our species wouldn’t have lasted this long without such inhibitions). But I think the prejudices in favor of life are probably more overt in the case of end-of-life. The woman doesn’t really KNOW the “baby” yet. The folks making an end-of-life decision are deciding about the life of someone who has always been one of the most important people in the world to them. Big difference.

    Also, often the patient is a participant in the decision — either concurrently, or through the prior preparation of a living will. Obviously, if the fetus were of an age to make a legally binding decision regarding his or her own life (and of course, this discussion is about whether that person will be allowed to reach that status), it would carry considerable force in the debate.

    Not ultimate force. We don’t, and shouldn’t, honor the suicidal impulse. But since end-of-life decisions involved uncertain, often ambiguous ethical questions, the actual patient’s philosophical input in the decision — offered when he or she is of sound mind, unencumbered by depression — should have some weight.

    So… the process is different, having different dynamics and different ethical considerations, with an entirely different capacity for participation by the one individual whose life is in question.

    So no, I don’t see the cases as being guided by one simple, overarching principle. You can’t easily say, “If you think this about this case, then you must think that about that case.” The analogies are interesting, but ultimately too tenuous.

  50. Brad

    Obviously, Kathryn and Doug don’t know middle-class white parents who will go to great lengths to adopt a child of any race. I do.

    And David, what Kathryn meant was that YOU, especially, would be fortunate if no one you ever had sex with didn’t get pregnant. You dawg, you.

    At this point, I will override my own prejudices to insert a smiley face: 🙂

    For the lack of that, the governor’s chief of staff got really huffy with me about one of my tweets this morning:
    “Sanford shocker: He does some actual governor work… RT @MarkSanford: headed to Cabinet Meeting this morning”

    I thought it was funny. Sort of a droll spoof of conventional morays, mocking the tendency of even the powerful to use social media to note uneventful occurrences in daily life.

    But Scott English was offended.

  51. Kathryn Fenner

    I used to be guardian ad litem for adoptions. My BFF is a DSS lawyer who can give you a list of children available for adoption.I know of what I speak.

    We do try to make sure adopted children go to good homes, which we don’t do for natural-born children. This costs. In addition, your Kulturkampfers (often the same “pro-lifers”) block adoptions by gays and lesbians….

  52. Doug Ross


    Color me unconvinced that the supply of adoptable babies regardless of race and health exceeds the demand.

  53. Brad

    I’m not an economist, but didn’t you mean to say, “Color me unconvinced that the DEMAND FOR adoptable babies regardless of race and health exceeds the SUPPLY?”

  54. Kathryn Fenner

    What is your definition of “adoptable”? Have you called DSS seeking a child, because they have them available, and they will pay the costs, too.

  55. bud

    We don’t, and shouldn’t, honor the suicidal impulse.

    We may not honor it but should we allow it?

  56. bud

    Brad has now posted about 20 times here regarding the abortion issue and probably 100 times more on earlier topics yet has still failed to answer the one question that is completely necessary to address in this discussion: “What penalty would you impose on a woman convicted of obtaining and abortion?” Until that question is answered I find it pretty useless to consider the other arguments. They have no persuasive value, none, zip, nadda.

  57. Karen McLeod

    Thank you for your answers, Brad. While I disagree with your logic (we already know that we don’t see this situation the same way, although I suspect our final positions are much closer than some might think), I at least understand your thinking better.

  58. jfx

    “Suicide is pathological….”

    Sure ’bout that? As a manifestation of mental illness, yes. But what about when it’s not necessarily pathological? What about as a response to chronic pain and deteriorating quality of life?

    You’re saying that a person must be inherently unstable to choose dying over living, without consideration for the context of that person’s specific circumstances? Cannot a person be perfectly sane, but in such pervasive physical misery that they wish to no longer live?

    If such persons exist (and I believe they do, since I’ve met more than one), how can they reasonably be denied that last freedom? I am trying to imagine the special hell it must be for someone whose quality of life is so poor from chronic pain that their only choices are to remain inside that pain, or exist merely as a medicated, incoherent vegetable,…or find a way to die. Take away that third option, and you’re forcing a human to suffer in perpetuity, physically and/or psychologically, until “nature” takes its course. Natural? Sure. Humane? Hardly.

  59. Maude Lebowski

    Thanks jfx. I can add that to my list of “GOOD ideas that use ‘choice’ (essentially, wraps itself in the ideological flag) as its main mantra.”

    The right to choose a humane death when living offers you nothing but pain and indignity.

  60. Kathryn Fenner

    Hear, hear, jfx!

    They shoot horses, don’t they? I have euthanized two beloved dogs when their quality of life so was so severely impaired that keeping them alive was only about my wants. It was not easy, but it was the right thing to do. Voluntary euthanasia for humans of sound mind but dire medical state should be a right!

  61. scout

    Adoption is not always the perfect solution it is made out to be. I have known of more than one case where even when the child is adopted days old and the adoptive parents are great – the child has mental/emotional/adjustment issues. It’s like somehow they know they were unwanted by their birth mother and it just messes them up. I realize that sounds crazy. I don’t know how they know. I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t have personal experience with it myself. I am certainly not against adoption, and I know many adoptions turn out fine. But people need to know it can be a hard road. And the best answer is still preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place. There is enough suffering in the world already.

Comments are closed.