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notes from the democratic underground

An article in Sky News today says that babies smile in the womb.

Apparently, this is just Right Wing Propganda.

Also learned while reading the posts linked above: Breastfeeding doesn't work for most American women because we are trained that our breasts belong to our husbands.

You can learn so much in one day from moonbat watching.

Comments

I have given up ever saying my opinion on this issue. My opponents tune me out thoroughly if I evne question the idea that there is more than one issue (choice) involved.

I have taken to just asking them to convince me: convince me that a 2-month old fetus feels no pain during the abortion. Convince me that a fetus is not a human being, or at least convince me WHEN a fetus becomes a human being.
I always ask: would you support the abortion of an 8-month 28day old fetus? Thank GOd, they almost always say no. SO why is it "right" at 5 months 28 days, just under the window of viability?
The response is always ad hominem at that point: how can I understand, how can I condemn a woman to an unwanted child, how dare I force my views on another person. etc.

All differences of opinion now are dismissed as mere politics.

All differences of fact now are dismissed as mere politics.

Part of the problem of the devolution of our politics.

Anyays, I just wanted to say I like the robot and to linkwhore a little - read my blog! I don't mean to comment spam, I just miss the linkwhore posts.

If differences of opinion aren't political, then what are they? Wasn't it Orwell who said that politics is an opinion about the way the world ought to be?

Bleeding Heart Conservative: I have taken to just asking them to convince me: convince me that a 2-month old fetus feels no pain during the abortion.

The goal of obtaining your conviction is questionable. I have no knowledge of your standards for conviction. I will therefore assume that the standards of reason and logic are adequate for this purpose, and work from there.

The feeling of pain, or even the capacity to smile, by the fetus or the embryo is irrelevant. The essential question concerning abortion is that of whether the fetus/embryo has the right to be in the host's body against the host's will. The concept of rights is not based on the capacity to smile or feel pain.

Convince me that a fetus is not a human being, or at least convince me WHEN a fetus becomes a human being.

The embryo/fetus does contain a complete set of human DNA, but is not a human being due to the fact that it has no means of independent physiological existence, and is physically dependent on the host for survival. The embryo/fetus is a potential human being, in the same way that an acorn is a potential oak tree.

Were we to assign the status of human being to any cell or group of cells with a complete set of unique individual human DNA, individuals in our society would risk murder charges every time they brush their hair or skin their knee.

I always ask: would you support the abortion of an 8-month 28day old fetus? Thank GOd, they almost always say no. SO why is it "right" at 5 months 28 days, just under the window of viability?

This portion of this discussion mixes a few concepts together, so let me untie this "mental knot" before I continue.

First, you jump from a question of whether an individual would support an certain type of abortion, and then question whether it's "right" (by which I presume you mean the question of whether abortion is a legitimate individual right). These are two seperate types of questions, so I'll answer them seperately.

Would I give blanket support for an abortion at 8 months and 28 days? No. By this time in the abortion, the fetus has usually developed the means for independent physiological existence, but is still physically dependent on its host. Thanks to modern medical technology, the fetus can often be removed at this point, and the life can be sustained to the point where the fetus begins employing its own means for physiological existence.

There are cases with unusual circumstances where I would support an abortion at 8 months and 28 days, however.

My personal support is one thing, the question of whether abortion is a right is another. I may not support what a particular person says, but that doesn't mean I object to the concept of free speech. A right, a freedom to take action in a social context, is absolute. The wisdom to employ a right can often be questionable (You have the right to speak your mind against the abortion question, but would it be wise to do so in the middle of a DNC convention?).

Why do I believe abortion to be a legitimate right, whether at 5 days and 28 months, or otherwise? The embryo/fetus, by the reasoned standards I stated earlier, is not a human being, and therefore has no rights. The mother in question does have rights. The embryo/fetus is there by the mother's permission.

Note that, as with any legitimate right, there is no conflict of rights. The opposite side of the debate gives equal status of right to the embryo/fetus, and turns the abortion question into a conflict of rights.

Yes, the results of abortion may be gruesome, horrifying, and sad. Taking action on any legitimate right may often have such results. The emotional response to the employment of a right is no basis for the negation of said right, however.

The response is always ad hominem at that point: how can I understand, how can I condemn a woman to an unwanted child, how dare I force my views on another person. etc.

Please note the decorum, and lack of ad hominem attacks in my post. I would welcome any reasoned and rational reponse to my arguments from any posters.

However, the issue of abortion is unfortunately subject to extremist arguments on both sides. Any issue such as this one, in which there are emotional, political and individual implications is going to be subject to such rhetoric, unfortunately.

Scott: You know you're my hero. Well said!

And now we are on dangerous legal ground where fetuses are given rights, much as human beings already have. Because society is wrapped up in "the children" and the future that they represent, and I shudder at the thought that, over time, not only will the fetus have rights equal to that of a human being, but that it will have rights above and beyond those of a human being. I don't even want to think about that.

As I commented over at The American Mind, it's my personal belief that it is better to allow a woman the choice of an abortion rather than commit the unwitting child to a life of abuse or neglect.

Just my two (well....) for the day.

The question of whether the developing baby has a right to be in the mother's body is a red herring. It's a good red herring -- I too was once taken in by it -- but it is nonetheless misleading. The only question of importance is whether the baby has a right to life.

If I invite a man into my home, I may not later shoot him on the grounds that he had no right to be there. Other things being equal, I possess an enforceable right to demand that he leave, but if he can be evicted without injury I am required to do that and no more. The law would say that by inviting him in, I have created a temporary easement for him, a cession in my otherwise absolute right to defend my property with force.

A baby in the womb is there because the mother:
-- did certain things that carried a possibility that a baby would be conceived, AND:
-- -- either did not do other things to avert that possibility, OR:
-- -- was ineffective in her contraceptive preparations.
Thus, the mother has invited the baby into her womb. She has created an easement for the baby, just as she would have created an easement for a neighbor to visit her home by inviting them in.

The mother cannot argue that she didn't know sex causes pregnancy; ignorance of the law is no excuse. The mother cannot argue that she tried her best to prevent conception and therefore ought not to be held responsible for it; she could have averted all possibility of conception by not having sex, and there is no right to sex free from all consequences. The mother cannot argue, past a certain point, that the matter is kill-or-be-killed; babies as immature as 4.5 months gestation are now being saved by our medical technology.

Nor can the mother argue that aborting her child is indistinguishable from having her appendix removed; an appendix shares all of its owner's DNA and, in any case, has no prospect of growing to maturity and generating immense college tuition bills.

Basically all the arguments presented by the pro-abortion community are either specious or irrelevant. The only one that could possibly carry the day is that the developing baby has no right to life -- the sole argument they dare not make.

Even though it would be legally unsound and unwise for the health of our law to ban lethal abortions before the point of viability, the attempt to represent post-viability abortions as anything other than they are -- legally sanctioned murders of defenseless infants -- is a disgrace to their proponents and a huge blot on our conscience as a nation. You can tell that the proponents feel that disgrace; it shows in every twist and squirm they commit in evading the central issue:

Does a developing baby, who would be viable outside his mother's womb, have a right to life?

Ignoring the pro-/anti-abortion debate going on here, I've got to say I'm not terribly surprised to find that fetuses smile.

First of all, fetuses move around, they kick & punch, and I saw my baby sucking her thumb in the womb (and there was a callus on her lip from that when she was born). Heck, at 5 weeks gestation I got to see her heart beat in an ultrasound scan. I was pretty amazed to see the organ there & working so soon. I learned a lot about fetal development that I didn't know before.

In any case, for the first month after birth, my baby did lots of things, like smile in a maniacal way, which I could tell were random neurons firing because they would come and go with no correlation to events in the outside world. But now that she's almost 4 months, she smiles in response to people smiling at her, and you can see that other things, like kicking and grabbing, are coming under conscious control. Fetuses smiling just create an emotional impact for adults -- there's little conscious meaning for fetuses, as there's no meaning in these actions immediately after they're born. Indeed, I remember reading an article about cat fetuses that were prevented from moving in the womb (I don't remember how) and their physical coordination was shown to be screwed up -- the theory is that most movement of fetuses, and having eyes open and the like, is the brain figuring out its own wiring: "Oh, =that= nerve controls the left knee."

Of course, once the babies are born, it seems they've forgotten that wiring, but if nothing else they usually have gotten wired up enough to know how to suck and cry. And crap and piss.

Babies are fun, experimental toys.

The problem with Scott's logic is that abortions in the final trimester are designed to kill the fetus, not merely to remove it from the womb early, which makes clear that the point of late-term abortions is to prevent the fetus from living, not simply to end the pregnancy. If the latter was the goal, should not doctors then be making every effort to keep the fetus alive?

Francis' argument, on the other hand, ignores that not all pregnancies are the result of consensual behavior.

And if a baby is the result of a rape, rather than consensual sex, does that somehow change what the baby's rights are and ought to be?

it's my personal belief that it is better to allow a woman the choice of an abortion rather than commit the unwitting child to a life of abuse or neglect.

Since when did we humans gain the ability to see into the future?

it's my personal belief that it is better to allow a woman the choice of an abortion rather than commit the unwitting child to a life of abuse or neglect

The same argument could be used in favour of compulsory sterilization.

Basically all the arguments presented by the pro-abortion community are either specious or irrelevant.

Well, damn, if that's not convenient, I don't know what is. May I unilaterally declare the same of the anti-abortion community? That would really get things rolling, no?

Francis, can I assume that you are volunteering to raise all these, er, surplus children?

Going back to the comment about moonbat watching, it's interesting to see how many of these "compassionate" souls are so quick to deny that babies have consciousness, feelings, or expressions out of the womb.

"Babies smile when they have gas." What a crock. When was the last time you felt like smiling because you were so bloated?

A memory that will be fresh with me until I die is holding my newborn girl and singing to her while the nurses stitched up my wife. She was looking at me very intently, and I knew and still know that she was already a person, and not any kind of blank slate.

Pssssst...don't tell Todd these new monstah-knockers don't belong to him. He's nevah bee' so happy in his who' lif-ah.

Scottc says:
The embryo/fetus does contain a complete set of human DNA, but is not a human being due to the fact that it has no means of independent physiological existence, and is physically dependent on the host for survival. The embryo/fetus is a potential human being, in the same way that an acorn is a potential oak tree.

So the test of humanity is independent physiological existence? What of the humanity of paraplegics, comatose patients...?
But more specifically, in your interpretation, until the fetus can survive outside the womb, it is in no way a human being because it is inextricable from the host. You see the umbilicus not as a life-giving tube between living things, but a parasitic link similar to a leech or lamprey.
I must ask: can even an infant survive on its own? What human infant is not utterly dependent on the mother for survival? Your response, I imagine, will focus on some concept of "independent existence," as a semantic distinction despite the still rather obvious dependence on parents for survival.

But your formulation "potential human being" likening a fetus to an acorn reveals much. It SHOULD BE relevant to you, if you're a human being, that a 2nd trimester fetus is capable of feeling pain, has a central nervous system, has its own blood supply.

Why do I believe abortion to be a legitimate right, whether at 5 days and 28 months, or otherwise? The embryo/fetus, by the reasoned standards I stated earlier, is not a human being, and therefore has no rights. The mother in question does have rights. The embryo/fetus is there by the mother's permission.

Tell PETA that you think only humans have rights... anyway...
The fetus is there by the mother's decision. She has responsibilities as well as rights.

Note that, as with any legitimate right, there is no conflict of rights. The opposite side of the debate gives equal status of right to the embryo/fetus, and turns the abortion question into a conflict of rights.

Consider: rights are often in conflict. I think your oblique "opposite side of the debate" might really just be asking: "Isn't there something else to esteem besides just the right to choose? Do we have to engage in logomachy to dehumanize the unborn infant, to create the illusion of no conflict, and thus no guilt?"

Yes, the results of abortion may be gruesome, horrifying, and sad. Taking action on any legitimate right may often have such results. The emotional response to the employment of a right is no basis for the negation of said right, however.

We are a human society and are emotional creatures. Enslavement of blacks was at one time a "right," granted by law, although not a right by moral and universal truths. How did we arrive at the realization, the epiphany that though legally right it was morally wrong? "The emotional response to the employment of a right is no basis for the negation of said right," may be true, but the emotional response to the travesty of slavery lead to the rational basis for the negation of said right.

You allowed yourself to call abortion gruesome and horrifying-- we agree-- and at the same time allow yourself the freedom to not be concerned. On what do we base our laws? Why is it illegal to murder a newborn with the umbilical chord still attached? Isn't emotional revulsion congruent with a moral framework?

Back to my original proposition: 8month, 28day healthy fetus, capable of surviving outside the womb. The mother is emphatic that the fetus be aborted. You would bot only withhold support, but would vehemently deny her "right to choose." If she tried to kill the infant, she would be restrained.
So then , we see that somethign is superior to the right to choose, that another issue is involved: ANOTHER PARALLEL SET OF RIGHTS. Did the mother "lose" her rights, or are they superseded only? Aren't rights in conflict there?

So if we all agree that the baby / infant/ fetus at 8-28 has rights, why not the 5month 29 days? What are your clear scientific rational unemotional criteria, that make it abundandtly celar and absolute that the infant is not a human being? Because several premature babies have survived at 5 months development.

I depart with most pro-lifers in this: I think the RU486 is a good thing, the morning after pill. Every day fertilized zygotic cels are lost because they find no purchase in the uterine wall. It is not a tragedy when it happens naturally, and I would say it probably happens everyday somewhere in the world. Therefore, I cannot say that it would be tragic or immoral if women prevented the embryo from attaching to the wall. There is no suffering involved, and no viability.
But I believe when a fetus is subjected to feeling anguish, and must be KILLED in a "gruesome, horrifying" way, there is no rational detached way to look at it. It is emotional, and it does touch upon the most fundamental aspects of our humanity. Like it or not, we do have a spiritual existence and not everything can be reduced (or traduced) to the inhumanity of icy rationality.

I come down solidly on the side of the pro-choice people here. There are some very silly arguments going on here, such as the one about the 8-28 baby. If a mother goes through eight months and 28 days of the pregnancy and then suddenly decides she needs to abort, she is not thinking clearly about the matter and there's something else going on--fear of labour, what have you. So I will ignore those.

A woman who is raped or the victim of incest should not be forced to bear a child, but I agree that the abortion should be done early. I also feel that a woman who feels she would not be able to do an adequate job of bringing up a child should be given this option. "Adoption" is not always an answer, since not everyone can afford to take time off work, nor is giving birth a safe, routine procedure. (Nor, for that matter, are adopted parents always ideal.)

To force a woman to undergo the life-altering business of bearing a child is to say that she has no right to decide for herself. I agree that there should be a window of time in which this should be done, and I quite frankly admit that I don't know enough of the physiology of the developing fetus to define that window myself. But the truth of the matter is, to go through pregnancy and to give birth is to endanger one's life. And there is no guaranteed safe landing for that baby after birth. Heck, look at all the people out there who don't believe in free school lunches!

And to throw in one more point, the fact that our infant (and mother) mortality rates have lowered so drastically is a credit to our evolution and to our medical profession, but our unchecked proliferation on the planet is causing havoc with the environment. We do not need more children. We need to take better care of the ones we have, and of the earth around us. I don't believe life is sacred; I only believe that we need to treat the existing life of all species responsibly.

I wanted to share these for your consideration. Similar information is at the above site.

Abortion Quotes from Pro-Choice Sources

From "Abortion at Work: Ideology and Practice in a Feminist Clinic" by Wendy Simonds. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1996 This book includes a chapter on how to repel abortion protestors or "antis" but also has a section where clinic workers are encouraged to share their deepest feelings about abortion.

Some Quotes:

"You're going from dealing with people to dealing with what most people here at the Center consider a real hurdle, to do sterile room, because you have to deal with the actual abortion tissue. And for some people, that's really hard...."

"It's just- I mean it looks like a baby. It looks like a baby. And especially if you get one that comes out, that's not piecemeal. And you know, I saw this one, and it had its fingers in its mouth...it makes me really sad that that had to happen, you know, but it doesn't change my mind. It's just hard. And it makes me just sort of stop and feel sad about it, the whole necessity of it. And also....it's very warm when it comes into the sterile room because it's been in the mother's stomach. It feels like flesh, you know..."

"It's going to be weird now because you're going to see the sono. You're going to see the heart beating- little hearts, you know- and then, all of a sudden, you're going to put his cardiac medicine in it to make it stop- to kill it. So you're going to see the exact moment when you kill the fetus. I won't kill it, the doctor will kill it...and, I mean, it might be more humane...[if] the fetuses do feel something, why not kill it, you know, fast, [rather] than rip its leg off?"

"I feel some sadness [about abortions] and I think part of the problem is that we don't talk about that...we don't talk about it as much as we think about it...somehow your pro-choice stance is compromised by saying the word "baby."...We don't allow ourselves to say or think that word...."

"At nine weeks...you start seeing fetal parts. And by the second trimester it's, you know, it's a baby, and by eighteen weeks it's definitely a baby. And by like, you know, twenty-two weeks, you go in and you watch someone do a sonogram, and you're like, "Oh my." There it is just moving, moving around. And it's really hard because I always thought of abortion in terms of just the woman, just her body."

"You're looking between the woman's legs; you're seeing, you know, what the doctor's doing. And it's what a lot of people would call kind of, I guess, gruesome- that's not really the word because- it's identifiable. I mean, when he...takes the forceps and pulls out a foot, you can see the foot, and my reaction- because I feel so strongly that women who want to have a twenty week abortion should be able to have that- but I mean when I look and was just like, you know, my first reaction was, you know, I was pretty horrified."

"So by it looking like a baby, you're associating it with yourself because...you used to be a baby, you used to be a fetus."

"...when you're, you know, putting a fetus's feet in over its head in a baggie, there's just this brief moment of "This could have been me," which I fundamentally believe is okay. She should have the right to choose..."

"...it looks like a baby, That's what it looks like to me. You've never seen anything else that looks like that. The only other thing you've ever seen is a baby...You can see a face and hands, and ears and eyes and, you know...feet and toes...It bothered me real bad the first time..."

"I think the tough part was seeing actual pieces of fetus being removed..And in the beginning, yes, I remember looking, standing behind this woman's shoulder and thinking, "I can't do this...There's something emotionally upsetting about this..Features are discernible; you can count five fingers on a hand and five toes on a foot. You know, all the organ systems are formed. You know, you can see ears as structures, and the nose and eyes as structures...I have gotten to the point now that because I've been doing this work five months, four months, I look at it a little differently. I don't see the same things that I did. And, honestly, when I sit down to do one of these now, I am watching to be sure that I'm getting everything that I need to get. It's 'Do I have two lower extremities? Do I have two upper extremities? Is t here a spine? ...and the skull?...It does become a bit routine after a while. I don't fear it."

"I hate it when people put it together to look like a baby. I hate that...I don't want to look like it when its like that because it's like a broken doll, and that grosses me out."
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"Abortion Practice" by Warren Hern, M.D., Boulder Colorado Abortionist published in 1984 by the J.B. Lippenott Company. Hern performs abortions up until the 4th month of pregnancy.
This is his textbook on how to perform them.

"The procedure changes significantly at 21 weeks because fetal tissues become much more cohesive and difficult to dismember" p 154 "A long curved Mayo scissors may be necessary to decapitate and dismember the fetus." - 154

"The aggregate fetal tissue is weighted, then the folowing fetal parts are measured, foot length, knee to heel length, and biparietal diameter" p 164
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"I do think abortion is murder -- of a very special and necessary sort. What else would one call the deliberate stilling of a life? And no physician involved with the procedure ever kids himself about that ... legalistic distinctions among "homicide," "justified homicide," "self- defense," and "murder" appear to me a semantic game. What difference does it make what we call it? Those who do it and those who witness its doing know that abortion is the stilling of a life."
-- Dr. Magda Denes, PhD
From Magda Denes. "Performing Abortions." Commentary Magazine, October 1976, pages 33 to 37:

"You have to become a bit schizophrenic. In one room, you encourage the patient that the slight irregularity in the fetal heart is not important, that she is going to have a fine, healthy baby. Then, in the next room you assure another woman, on whom you just did a saline abortion, that it is a good thing that the heartbeat is already irregular....she has nothing to worry about, she will NOT have a live baby...All of a sudden one noticed that at the time of the saline infusion there was a lot of activity in the uterus. That's not fluid currents. That's obviously the fetus being distressed by swallowing the concentrated salt solution and kicking violently and that's to all intents and purposes, the death trauma. ..somebody has to do it, and unfortunately we are the executioners in this instance..."
--abortionist Dr.Szenes

"I look inside the bucket in front of me. There is a small naked person in there, floating in a bloody liquid- plainly the tragic victim of a drowning accident. But hen perhaps this was no accident, because the body is purple with bruises and the face has the agonized tauntness of one forced to die too soon. I have seen this face before, on a Russian soldier lying on a frozen snow-covered hill, stiff with death, and cold."
--Denes
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Also quoted by Magda Denes, "[the doctor] pulls out something, which he slaps on the instrument table. "there," he says, "A leg." . . . I turn to Mr. Smith. . . He points to the instrument table, where there is a perfectly formed, slightly bent leg, about three inches long. . . "There, I've got the head out now." ...There lies a head. It is the smallest human head I have ever seen, but it is unmistakably part of a person."

"We know that its killing, but the state permits killing under certain circumstances"

--Dr. Neville Sender, abortionist

"Even now I feel a little peculiar about it, because as a physician I was trained to conserve life, and here I am destroying it."

--abortionist

"There was not one [doctor] who at some point in the questioning did not say "This is murder."'--Magda Denes on her two years of research done for her book In Necessity and Sorrow; Life and Death Inside an Abortion Hospital.

"You know there is something in there alive that you are killing."--another abortionist interviewed by Denes

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In the book "Abortion: Debating the Issue" (New York:Enslow Publishing, Inc., 1995) Nancy Day quotes abortionist Dr. Ed Jones, who had worked at a Planned Parenthood Clinic for 4 years at the time of the interview, saying the following:

"This can burn you out very, very quickly...not so much by the physical labor as the emotional part of what's going on. When you do an ultraound, particularly if you have children, and you see a fetus there, kicking, moving, living, doing things that your own child does, bringing it's thumb to its mouth, and things like that- it's difficult. Then, after the procedure, sometimes we have to actually look at the specimen, and you see arms and legs and things like that torn off...It does take an emotional toll."

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