En Tequila Es Verdad/progressive conservatism/post/2009/02/16/1906

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February 16, 2009 7:06 PM - Mike

Mike at The Big Stick said...

But okay, which metrics would you pick as being the most significant as far as intimidation?

Any violent act is going to be significant in terms of intimidation, so I don’t want to give the impression that I view some acts as less serious than others. Violence is violence and whether it’s the threat of murder or assault, I think they have a pretty similar effect on abortion providers. So we can agree that any violence is bad. In my opinion though, what the statistics prove is that regardless of how we graph the numbers the ratio of clinic violence to abortions is something like 1 act of violence for every 10,000 abortions. Given the view that many pro-lifers hold, which is that abortion = murder, I’d say we’re doing pretty good.

A teen who attends an abstinence-only class will continue to feel compelled (by hormones and sexual wiring) to have sex, regardless of what they may promise or believe is right, and (due to the class) will additionally not feel compelled to use contraception.
There is also some evidence that ABE conveys a message that contraception is actually morally wrong, leading to less usage than would have happened without any sex education at all... but I digress.

I still find it extremely hard to swallow the notion that teens will attend the class and only take away half the message (contraception is wrong) while ignoring the other half (premarital sex is wrong). It sounds to me like you’re trying to have your cake and eat it too, which is to suggest that the class can change behaviors, but only the ones that re-enforce your notion that the class actually does harm verses no class at all. As I stated earlier, I accept the notion that the classes are not effective, but I refuse to accept the idea that they are more harmful than no class at all, a fact you conceded earlier and now seem to be changing your position on.

"You do know that contraception IS discussed in most of those classes, right? The message given is that the only birth control method that is 100% effective is abstinence."

Um, no. Wrong….ABE, as funded by the Bush administration to the tune of $1 billion, doesn't allow grant recipients "to advocate or discuss contraceptive methods except to emphasize their failure rates."

You basically just re-iterated my point. In order to give the message that abstinence is the only 100% method, you have to explain the failure rates of other types.

"Again, when you see abortion as murder..."

I think the use of the word "murder" is highly misleading… "Murder" is unlawful killing. If abortion is legal, you can call it killing but you can't call it murder, by definition.

The legal logic in your argument is sound, but under that same logic the Holocaust wasn’t murder. (I’m not invoking that for shock value, but that is the most applicable example.) I think murder tends to transcend contemporary legal constructs as it is perhaps the oldest moral offense we have.

."I believe I addressed this point before..."

You didn't counter my claim that there is a steep emotional cost. By saying that a woman's primary motivation is "ease", you are implying that getting an abortion is usually easier than not getting one -- again claiming that the emotional cost is negligible.

I believe I DID counter your claim. I said, “ I don’t think liberals really believe that those women made a bad decision, but they are sympathetic to her anguish because it becomes a mental health issue for them…They de-emphasize the humanity of the fetus and over-emphasize the moral dilemma of the mother as a sort of trade-off. “You give us the abortion and we will promise you a lifetime of remorse.“

I would say the ‘emotional cost’ is negligible in the sense that it doesn’t lessen the offense. To be quite blunt, I could give a fig about the ‘emotional cost’ for a woman. If she wants to avoid the emotional burden, the easiest solution is to avoid the abortion. If she is worried about the baby’s future, put it up for adoption. If she’s only worried about her own future, then she should have factored that in to her risk assessment of having sex.

My expert witness, a mother of four (one grown and in the Navy) and the survivor of one miscarriage (at 10 weeks), says that losing the embryo/fetus for any reason carries considerable emotional cost.

If your expert witness also had an abortion then they would be a good source of comparison. Since they apparently haven’t, I’m not sure how they can explain the emotional impact of a procedure they haven’t had. Assuming the miscarriage was either a planned pregnancy or a pregnancy they were planning on carrying to term, I don’t see how that would compare to ending a pregnancy you see as a burden. The only equivalent I can think of is if your source wanted to get rid of their pregnancy and the miscarriage accomplished that.

Calling abortion-seeking women murderers, sinners or even just bad mommies is extremely counterproductive, and makes the pro-life movement look like a bunch of crazed religious fanatics (especially when you admit you can't rationally defend this position). It's certainly not "progressive".

Negative rhetoric is always problematic in any discussion, but to suggest that unpleasant words make the conservative position non-progressive would imply that you can’t be progressive and use harsh rhetoric? If that was truly the case there would literally be NOTHING progressive about Dana’s blog, a point I’m sure she would dispute.

"Saving some lives is better than saving no lives."

But why compromise from your apparent stand that abortions should be completely illegal? How does that save lives?

If we increase the number of restrictions, less abortions will be had. I’m not sure how to explain that any better. I’ve heard a lot of liberals use this line of discussion lately though. The contention seems to be that since some pro-lifers are moving to an incremental approach it is somehow an admission that a goal of outlawing all abortions was/is flawed. I just see it as practical move to get things heading in the right direction and one that significant national support.

"Personally, I find it irrational to pretend you can determine when life/personhood begins when you really can’t."

That's actually an argument for why it doesn't make sense to make a law for exactly when abortions are illegal...

So in a question over when life begins, you choose to err on the side of no-life?

We've been over this territory before: I can explain my reasoning to you, but you decline to explain yours to me. That's not being flexible or progressive, and it's not likely to result in a successful negotiation process.

My general view on such standoffs is that if one side won't show their reasoning or data, then they're wrong by default. It's like one team not showing up for a ball game -- they forfeit the match, whether or not they could have won if they had played.

I really don’t understand what there is to explain. The scientific definition of ‘personhood’ is yet to be outlined with any degree of certainty or universal agreement. The law doesn’t even really do this, it only grants the mother dominion over the fetus, regardless of personhood. Even if we DO pick a legal definition, it will still be only our best guess. In the absence of 100% certainty I choose to err on the side of life/personhood. I don’t know how many more times I can say that.

I think I can suggest two constraints for the term "progressive", having seen where your usage of it seems wrong to me:

* A majority must agree that the changes proposed would actually be progress, advancements in society, of benefit to civilization in general.
* The proposed changes must somehow make life easier and/or less constrained, overall.

I could think of more than a few examples that would meet one of your criteria and contradict the other. Carbon emission standards, for example, are ‘progressive’ but not easy to implement and the additional cost would probably cost jobs, at least in the short term. So if something meets one standard and not the other, can it still be ‘progressive’?

Re: Ross Douthat

Legal personhood is hardly a metaphysical question; if the law says you're a person, then you're legally a person.

The law says that a fetus is a person if the mother is murdered while pregnant (i.e. two counts of murder) but the law does not say the fetus is a person if the mother pays a doctor to abort said fetus. The law is already in conflict with itself it seems.