Niki Kelly has an article in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on the continuing efforts at wingnuttery with respect to HB 1172. This is the bill, the House version of which, decides by legislative fiat an issue that has confounded philosophers and theologians for millenia. They would decide that fully human life begins at the moment of conception, and they would use the power of the state (ultimately, men with guns if one fails to obey) to force doctors to inform their patients of this legislated fact. Doctors would also be required to tell their patients that fetuses may feel pain prior to twenty weeks of gestation, regardless of whether this is actually true or not.
The article notes that all the conferees on the bill are men. The current version of the bill requires that 18 hours prior to an abortion, the pregnant woman be informed in writing that adoption alternatives are available with “many couples” who are willing to adopt a child, and that “adoptive parents may legally pay the costs of prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care.” It also requires the pregnant woman to be notified that there are physical risks to the woman in having an abortion. The physical risks of pregnancy are not addressed.
The author of the bill, Tim Harris, is trying to undo the changes made in the Senate and basically reconstitute the bill as it came out of the House, complete with the language regarding fetal pain and human life beginning at conception.
Look, if abortion is murder then outlaw it. If it’s not, then don’t. I don’t see any real middle ground on that score. It seems ridiculous to try to fight murder by making a doctor hand out a pamphlet. The fact that anti-abortion activists are willing to take this approach indicates to me that, in their heart of hearts, they think abortion is something they don’t like, but something less than murder.
as has been noted in response to the South Dakota bill, if you say that life begins at conception (i.e., fertilization of an egg by a sperm), then by definition you are killing life by taking birth control that prevents implantation. So, that is the next target.
It may seem like nitpicking, but I think it’s important to specify that we’re talking about “human life” beginning at conception. I don’t think it’s too controversial to say that some kind of life exists at conception. But, it’s not life alone that we feel compelled to protect. A bug is most certainly alive, but there is no problem killing it. Even the potential for human life isn’t necessarily sacrosanct. We don’t criminalize menstruation or masturbation, for example. And both of those activities eliminate a potential human life.
So, as long as the blastocyst or fetus or what have you is only life or only potential life, our moral traditions do not command protection. It is only fully human life that commands protection.
(It’s an aside, but as I’ve mentioned before, I think we as a society need to think more about whether we ought to value merely biological human life or whether there is a biographical component that needs to be present before we’re morally bound to preserve the life. In the Schiavo case, for example, Terri was human and biologically alive, but in my opinion without any potential for further biographic life, it was profane to keep her husk alive.)
doghouse riley says
We’ve allowed religion to be the template for the argument since 1973. One side has been allowed to say, “That’s wrong. It’s murder.” with no obligation to deal with any of the issues arising from a legal imprimateur on that belief. Most of those same religions deal with the inevitable tresspasses with infinite forgiveness, but no law is going to take that approach.
My own can of worms example: you have a fifteen-mile-per-hour fender bender in a parking lot when you back into an oncoming car. No one’s hurt, but the woman in the other car is three months pregnant, goes home and miscarries. Vehicular homicide? Why not?
So of course what happens is we fudge the law. Feticide in Indiana is a Class B felony, provided it occurs in the commission of a crime involving battery. Which falls a little short of the rhetoric.
Y’know, I’ll believe the legislature is sincerely concerned with every Hoosier blastocyst-American when doctors are required to tell their patients, “If you choose to carry the child to term, and cannot keep it, he’ll be cared for by the state, given adequate nutrition and medical care and a paid education through college.”
I do see an awful lot of “valuing life” before birth and after brain death but not in between.
It isn’t nitpicking. You and I very much agree that “human life” needs to be protected. We simply disagree on where that line is.
I think one of the biggest problems is that we have not had public debate on defining this line.
Both sides of the abortion and right to life debate should welcome the idea of a series of “tests” or “conditions” of what “human life” is and is not. Does a sense of pain matter? Does the ability to remember? Brain wave activity? As we learn more about the human body, we can expect this line to move back and forth.
Hopfully, the abortion debate that will soon be in the Supereme Court will attempt to create this measure. I am afraid, though, that it will be up to Congress to pass a law that defines this. With the wingnuttery (thanks for the term, Doug) on BOTH sides blinding any true debate, I think I will just continue to wish…
T Bailey says
Seems like we should be prosecuting pregnant smokers for child abuse, if we continue down this path. I mean, there’s a baby in there, right? And they are willfully trying to give it cancer (why else would they pump all those carcinogens through their placentas and into their little gestating babies?) Then probably we will have to give pregnancy tests to all woman smokers of childbearing age, to be sure they aren’t committing child abuse. Etc.
Doug, you’re preaching to the choir here. I think what exists post-fertilization is a clump of cells that if implanted normally will develop the potential for awareness and possibly independent thought at some point during its gestation. It isn’t a person. So, to me, it’s an argument based on a fallacy and/or theology, not science.
My point was that to the anti-abortion crowd who are pushing the extreme restriction language and/or complete abortion bans, life DOES begin at fertilization. The logical extension to that for many of them is that artificial, chemical means of preventing implantation = murder. As such, the next logical extension is to put language in the restrictions that will allow an argument in future to ban the use of the pill both for regular and morning-after use.
also, to T Bailey, there are already bills forcing mothers to undergo HIV tests (opt-out instead of opt-in, and some argue for mandatory testing). Although we can argue all day whether or not it’s good as a pure health initiative (HIV drugs taken during pregnancy will almost always prevent the transmission of the virus to the fetus), it is targeted at the mother’s status as it pertains to what she is risking passing on to her fetus. There are also laws that impose criminal sentences on women who use illegal drugs during pregnancy – more than the drug use itself, they are designed to punish the potential harm to the fetus. That’s why the definition of a fetus as a “person” is so troubling. Once you have accepted that argument, and given full “personhood” status and legal protection to the fetus, anything the mother does which harms or potentially harms the fetus is a criminal act.
My argument always has been: If the gov’t steps in to save life at conception why cannot it continue with social legislation ,whatever is needed, to maintain life in a humane way after birth and til death.Yes, there’s more to life than outlawing abortion and outlawing euthanasia.There is a big in-between. One thing I give credit to is my catholic catechism that drove through my head and got into my spirit that ALL life has value, from birth to death,and that assumes logically that govt should get involved alone the line whenever the value of life is threatened. So religion doesnt necessarily have to make us rw conservative, is another valid point.I point this out only in view of the present array of religious legislation that is edging itself through the Indiana legislature. Best NO faith-based legislation should EVER be introduced.
In all the comments I have seen, I still don’t see a reason for not defining life. I understand that many people my not like the restrictions it may create, but that is a seperate issue. I don’t like the restriction of how fast I am allow to drive, but my dislike for that has been overruled by what most people feel is a safe speed for everyone.
If we can agree on when protected life starts, or even come to a compromise on the conditions of when it starts, then we have to deal with how we handle that life.
Even lawgeekgurl, who has made very passionate cases pro-choice, says “will develop the potential for awareness and possibly independent thought at some point during its gestation”. What is that “some point”? Let’s define that. Maybe your point is the moment the cord is cut. Some are sure to say when the sperm meets the egg. Honestly, rather than the lack of definition we have now I would rather say “after 8 months”.
In all these debates, there seem to be two key points. Pro-life say “Life starts at conception according to the bible, stopping that life after that point is murder”. Pro-choice say “It is the woman’s body, she can do with it what she wishes”. By defining that line of valuable life we can shift the focus. The point would not (or should not) be defined by the bible, taking the key arguement away from the pro-life camp. The point would also not be the mother, taking away the key arguement from the pro-choice.
After all, would any pro-choice person REALLY say that “If a woman wants to kill her 6-second old child before the cord is cut, that is fine. It is her body.” No, because most agree that a crying baby is a REAL human, even if it is still physically attached to her mother. I don’t hear any cries for the rights of THOSE women, do you? It is agreed that the right to life for a lawful American is protected, regardless how many other rights might be trampled on to protect that right.
So, why the hesitiation to draw that line? Draw it anywhere, but write it down so everyone knows where those rights begin and also when they end, such as the Shivo (sp?) case.
The Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade drew a line.
In other words,according to Roe vs Wade any legislation regulating abortion during the first trimester is unconstitutional.Lets see if which judges respect the Constitution.
The Court in Roe based its decision on finding that there was a Constitutional right to privacy implied by the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments to the Constitution. This implicit right to privacy was used in the earlier case of Griswold v. Connecticut which struck down a Connecticut law that prohibited the use of contraceptives. The most common criticism of Roe that I’ve heard is with respect to a finding of implicit rights by the Supreme Court. Under this rationale, only those rights specifically enunciated in the Constitution are to be enforced by the courts, never mind what the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution says:
Often times when you hear Constitutional critiques of Roe, you’ll hear the critic sneeringly refer to “penumbras.” This comes from the language in Griswold that finds a right to privacy in the penumbras of the enumerated rights. Far from being judicial activism, in my opinion, this is merely recognition that the Ninth Amendment clearly contemplates unenumerated rights which can logically be thought to be discerned through analyzing the enumerated rights.
So, when abortion opponents champion a law outlawing abortion as in South Dakota, they’ll tell you that they think a Supreme Court upholding the ban is constitutional and that Roe v. Wade was, itself, unconstitutional. Obviously I disagree.
I think a lot of people agree with you. I, personally, think abortion is murder and should be outlawed. Many think that abortion (at least early term abortion) is not murder, and therefore shouldn’t be outlawed.
I could be totally wrong about this, but, state legislatures have effectively been denied the ability to make the decision that Doug says should be made since the Supreme Court made this determination:
… so we’re left with legislators trying to cobble toegether the closest thing they can to a ban.
Obviously I don’t believe abortion = murder. But, if I did (and I’ve said this before), I’m not sure how I could avoid the conclusion that stopping mass murder on that scale morally requires action up to and including armed insurrection.
For example, if our government emulated 1930s and 40s Germany and opened concentration camps to exterminate Jews, I think we would all be morally obligated as citizens to respond with force, if necessary, against our government — even if the Supreme Court came down with a decision that said it’s not murder because Jews aren’t really people.
The fact that anti-abortion activists are not doing this (aside from a handful of extremists) suggests to me that they understand at some level that killing a fetus is morally different than killing a fully human life.
Very well. So, “For the stage subsequent to viability” means that once a baby can be born and live, I assume? Or does it mean when it can be removed and live? “Snowflake” babys have been born today, nearly 100 that were “aborted” from one mother then implanted into another have lived. Is that viability? If not, then viability should follow the line drawn by science where a fetus can be removed from her parent and science can assist with the final development. At 8 months, we know the chances are very good for survival. I have heard of babies being born at 5 1/2 months and making it, although that is very rare.
So, as the law stands at this instant, would a scientific breakthrough that allowed a 2 week old fetus to live outside the womb and come to full term make it lawful for a state to ban abortions after 2 weeks? With 75% success? Assuming that the state allowed a provision for abortion to save the mother? This is just a hypothetical, but feelings aside, does it pass Roe v. Wade?
Jason, I hear what you are saying. I think that Roe had the right of it when it said that a right of privacy exists in the Constitution and that the framers intended it to be so. But clearly Roe had some fuzzy logic in determining the exact point when the state’s interest in preserving the fetus overrides the right of the individual to keep the state from depriving the biological mother of liberty and self-determination. I am more likely to see the merit in such an argument (state’s rights trumping personal liberty) when the fetus reaches the developmental state of viability outside the womb. As such, we may share the same goal – pinpointing a time in the fetal development when abortion should probably be prohibited – but our reasons for that are different. You are speaking from your personal religious or moral beliefs, and that you believe that you have an obligation because of your religion or personal morality to see that others not do something you feel is wrong. I am talking about civil liberties and the right of the state to take control of a person’s body. These are different things, and I don’t think that ultimately we are going to agree on the rationale, even if we happen to come to the same conclusion about the outcome.
Please do not mistake my meaning, because I realize that I have not been as articulate as I would have liked. When I say things like [I believe] there is a point when a fetus develops sentience, what I am saying is that I personally (according to my own moral and spiritual beliefs) would have a problem with a later-term abortion unless there is an overriding reason to perform it, although yes, I can think of a few reasons that would qualify in my mind. I don’t think I could personally have a later-term abortion. I don’t know that I could have an abortion at all. But that doesn’t mean I am a doctor, or that I know when a fetus becomes viable (which doesn’t necessarily mean it is a legal person yet, or that it has a soul – I’m not touching that debate; I am no theologian either). It also doesn’t mean that I believe I have the right or the ability to make that decision for other women. I don’t know their medical history or situation. I don’t know what religion, if any, they practice. I am not going to say what I believe is right for you, but I also do not believe you have the right to say what should be imposed on me and my body.
I also have a problem with any legislature wholesale deciding a medical, scientific fact (i.e., the definition of “life”) or a theological doctrine (i.e., the definition of “life”) for its citizens when the legislature selectively chooses which medical evidence it hears, if it hears medical evidence at all. And if there is no consensus among the medical community, a state body especially has no business picking an arbitrary fact and saying it’s true and has the force of law. The state also has no business imposing theology or a state-sponsored religion on its citizens, and one could argue that’s what the authors of this bill are doing. It’s between me, my God, and my doctor.
Also, as I’ve said elsewhere – I have seen how the sausage is made. On the whole, I am horrified by the lack of thought, lack of foresight, motivations for partisan political or economic gain, reactionary behavior, and blatant favoritism and/or rewards for influential constituents or special interests that result in laws that bind the rest of the citizens. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that half the time half the legislators have not even read the bills they are voting on, especially if they are complicated or lengthy. You should see how few people actually have read or understand the budget they vote into law every two years. Many legislators rely on lobbyists to tell them what the bill says or what the bill means. Many times the lobbyists are the ones who wrote the bill, even if LSA drafts it. As such, you’ll have to forgive me if I do not believe that the legislature is looking out for me when they enact laws like this one. But then again, I am more cynical than most.
I share your lack of trust with how the laws are made.
However, make sure that you do understand that my opposition to abortion has nothing to do with the action of the mother, or the right or wrong with what she may do.
My goal, at least my goal in terms of how the laws are, is to protect the life of a child. I do not feel that we can say that every mother can have her own judgement on when another seperate being can live or die. Remember, the baby is never even part of the mothers bloodstream. Nutrient transfer occours, but the systems are seperare. The baby’s body and the mother’s body are not the same being. If the mother, then why not the father? Why not the grandparent? Why not after the child is born? Is there really that much that changes in a 9 month developed baby in the womb and a 2 week old baby? If a mother decides at that point that the child threatens her life in terms of the activites she can do or the income she does not have, is that her choice? This debate is not about protecting the mother from commiting some sin, it is about protecting a life.
For that reason, I can’t think of a good reason that we do not allow prostitution or other activites that are choice-based. Personally, I very much oppose the practice. However, I have no motivation to make it illegal.
Same goes with abortion. Assuming a clear line has been or could be drawn, I assume it would be close to what is is Roe v Wade. That does not ban all abortions. So, some abortions will continue to take place. Guiding people away from actions that are sinful is the job of the church, not the government. Regardless what sin we are talking about, the goal of the church is the same. The church should be sharing its message (the Gospel) in ways that are effective (not “You’re going to hell” signs outside clinics) in order to bring more people to their religion. After that, they can discuss right and wrong. Notice I don’t spend much time here quoting scripture and tring to convert everyone. That isn’t effective, and would do more harm than good.
The main point is that, for me and many other Christians, there is a difference between what the laws should say and what true right and wrong is.
Law is secular and based on the Constitution,a SECULAR document.
Law is arrived at by elected reps who discuss and compromise uusally involving give and take on other issues. And a legislature will not dare pass a law that is seen as unpopular no matter how ‘moral’ they think it may be,because they want to be re-elected.
All this MORAL rationalizing for legislation is all too self-serving and misrepesents what law is.Personal rights are CIVIL rights. There’s no such thing as ‘moral rights’as legislated.( my opinion,anyway)
I don’t know much about the system of law as a whole EXCEPT I know if I have a legal problem and I want my rights represented I go get a LAWYER,and it has nothing to do with MORAL VALUES.
And has anyone noticed the more any subject is put into any kind of MORAL argument, the more people refuse to listen and shout louder?
So overturn Roe vs Wade on MORAL grounds and we pay the price by undermining our entire Constitutional process.
Jason, I did not mean to say I do not respect you or your position. You have always struck me as levelheaded and able to discuss the issue and express your sincere beliefs without ad hominem attacks, something extremists on both sides of the debate cannot seem to help engaging in. It’s a highly charged, highly emotional issue, and I freely admit I get very angry about it. Also, it is my personal opinion that bills like this are part of a concerted effort to do more than outlaw abortion (whether for the right of the child or to punish the mother, whichever, and there are some who are openly saying they are doing it for the latter reason – i.e., getting rid of “convenience” abortions, and women who “just shouldn’t have sex” if they don’t like the consequences). I believe that some of those participating in these state-by-state battles want to have as much control over a woman as they possibly can, and if they can rationalize or justify it by saying they are trying to protect “innocent life” they will. So, I tend to get upset and frustrated at the whole movement and its intended and unintended consequences and angry that so many people are not expressing their opinions but rather letting the extremes at either end speak for them while they ignore it and pretend it will go away. You are clearly not doing that, and I believe that you have the right of how to influence a person’s behavior by example and persuasion rather than condemnation and coercion. However, it remains that many would use the vehicle of the state to coerce its citizens to do all kinds of things compliant with what the many feel is the right religious doctrine, and that scares the crap out of me.
(In point of full disclosure, I was raised Catholic, became a “born again” Protestant as a teen, drifted into what I call apatheism, and eventually turned to Buddhism. So, although I don’t agree with a lot of the religious ideas espoused – and I’m not saying I do or don’t agree with yours – I do understand why people espouse them.)
As our converstations have drifted from the root story, let me say that I oppose what they are trying to do here. A doctor should not go against what he / she thinks is true. If they feel that unborn babies feel no pain, they should not be force to LIE. I would rather them say “I disagree with this policy, but I’m not permitted my law to abort this fetus” rather than “It is the beleif of the State of Indiana that this fetus feels pain…blah blah blah”.
Speech mandated by law? What if the doctor says “Here is what I’m forced to say by law..blah blah blah…but really, all of that is false, and here is why”. Would they arrest that doctor for illegal speech? No thanks.
I really shouldn’t reply to this because (a) it’s over a week old, and (b) Godwin’s law implies that the discussion has gone far enough. So this will probably be my last post on the subject.
It seems shaky to me to compare government-sponsored systematic extermination with government-permitted “elective” extermination. By the same logic, animal-rights activists should revolt because humane-societies put down dogs.
Not to lend credence to the comparison, but using the insurrection analogy, pro-lifers shouldn’t revolt against the government, but rather at the source of the murders, namely abortion doctors and clinics. And, ohmygosh, a handful have!
I think the majority of pro-lifers, though, see this as a problem with (effectively) a law, and would rather work towards a peaceful solution: correcting the law; and in the meantime helping people find alternatives to abortion.