Bioethics, conscience, contraception, public policy, Uncategorized

Saletan on Prolife Contraception (Almost)

William Saletan has a basic problem when he begins to discuss prolife vs. abortion: while he’s not pro-abortion, he’s not anti-abortion, either. I’m glad that he’s trying and take it as a major victory that Democrats and pro-choicers will even discuss limiting abortion in the public square at all.

I’m afraid that it’s difficult for men and women who consider themselves “moderate” when it comes to abortion to understand that the rest of us actually consider life to begin at the biological marker of fertilization. We won’t accept the loss of an early pregnancy before implantation that is caused by our intentional actions.

Mr. Saletan would do better to stress the evidence against loss of pregnancy due to the morning after pill and some other contraception, rather than say that what he considers an acceptable risk of early embryo loss will cut interventional and intentional surgical and medical abortions.

On the other hand, I come from a tradition that is accepting of contraception that prevents conception in the first place, including barrier methods, the true contraceptive medications and sterilization. We expect couples to only have sex within marriage (and, I’ll admit, when they’ve convinced themselves that they expect to marry). We also expect them to welcome any pregnancy that occurs – whether planned or unplanned. I know lots of good couples who live this way in the Baptist, Church of Christ, Methodist and other non-Catholic traditions. And lots of born people who started life this way. (Some of those groups don’t consider themselves to be “Protestant” or “Evangelical.” I grew up hearing that the Baptists – or ana-Baptists – were always around, and so they never broke away from the Catholics, at all. But, that’s another blog.)

Mr. Saletan does point out a problem that my parents ran into back before Roe v. Wade and that we’ve had ever since: how to get prolife activists to work well together. Conversations on ending abortion tend to break down when our own groups divide over true contraception and when and where abortion will be regulated.

I’m a lumper from the school of “if he’s not against us, he’s for us,” “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” or even the “even a stopped clock is right twice a day.” My motto: look for the common ground.

I’ll never forget the email that I received after South Dakota bravely banned abortion on demand. Rather than celebrating the law against 99.7% of all elective abortions, at least one group was condemning them, claiming that South Dakota had passed legislation allowing abortion in the case of rape and incest (which I believe would be much more easily addressed as a “hearts and minds” issue.)

And I fully expect to be told that I’m not really prolife after this essay.
(Edited 10-01-06 for spelling of “really.”)

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Conservative Christian Family Doctor, promoting conservative news and views. (Hot Air under the right wing!)

Discussion

7 thoughts on “Saletan on Prolife Contraception (Almost)

  1. >I did post on my own blog, when it was still new, a short complaint that the pro-life platform had been hijacked by anti-contraception campaigners and a group of religious and social puritans I termed the 'sex-is-evil crowd.'

    Posted by Suricou Raven | October 2, 2006, 5:08 pm
  2. >It's not that the people I'm talking about believe that "sex is evil." They believe that sex outside of the Creator's purpose is evil.However, this is a religious belief. Just as the variable definitions of "person" are local, variable and based on criteria other than empiric observation.The fact that the embryo is a human being is not religious and can be confirmed by observers with the proper tools all over the world. Neither is it a religious, personal, or local belief that it is wrong to kill people. Unfortunately, there are lots of definitions of "people" or "persons" around the world.I just go for the broadest and empirical species definition.

    Posted by LifeEthics.org | October 2, 2006, 5:33 pm
  3. >There seem to be almost no universally agreed definitions in this field. We cant even agree on human – you try to define it in terms of origin and potential, while I define it in terms of capabilities. This is why I dont have any objection at all to contraceptive devices even if they may lead to the loss of a pre-implantation embryo. Besides, the survival rate of embryos at that age without any intervention is still low (Ive heard everything from 2% to 50% – I wonder exactly how such a thing would be measured, as any embryos that die before pregnency becomes detactable would not be noticed at all).I notice you put "moderate" in quotes – and I can understand why. In my view, a moderate would be someone who believes abortion is an unpleasant necessity – something to be avoided where possible, but ultimately a decision to be made by a women based on her own moral judgement of the situation. It would be the position of someone like Saletan. But many people would label such a position 'pro-abortion' – a term that, personally, I just cannot stand.I have never met, debated with, or heard of someone who could be honestly called pro-abortion, or even take abortion lightly. Even the most fanatical of those who campaign for legal abortion make it clear they would much rather pregnency be avoided than ended, and abortion reserved as a last-resort measure and for those situations where it is medically nessicary.Ironicly, its the anti-abortion organisations that are often most opposed to all forms of contraception, due to the extensive overlap with religion – as can be seen by the bickering over that bill, as soon as any attempt is made to fund or encourage contraception, the abstinance-purists walk out. Understandably, they are unwilling to encourage something they see as very immoral (Not contraception itsself, but the casual sex it encourages) even as a means to reduce the scale of something they see as extremally immoral.

    Posted by Suricou Raven | October 3, 2006, 12:21 pm
  4. >There'd be a lot less of this if the government got out of the business of paying for everything, with tax money. Let all the pro-abortion advocates pay for clinics that supply contraceptives in the same way that those of us who oppose abortion pay for the pregnancy centers.Unfortunately, I have met a few "pro-abortion." One middle aged woman stood at a national bioethics forum to berate (in Texican, she "chewed them out royally") the panel for calling abortion "unfortunate," "sad," and "tragic." She said hers was anything but, since she had no intention of having a child, no intention of marrying the father, and had better things to do with her life.Far too many people focus their lives on advocating abortion as the cure for all the feminist and "sex plus" problems in the world.Literally, however, women shouldn't be in the position to "choose." The wholeness of being a woman includes accepting our bodies and our children. We're not limited except as by external pressures. Given half a chance the woman above could have had the child and become a lawyer.

    Posted by LifeEthics.org | October 3, 2006, 1:05 pm
  5. >Hmm… bad idea, I think. The government has control of public schools, so at the very least they should be using their unique position as educator. But when they to that, it gets unfortunatly political due to that much-complained-of religious/conservative objection to contraceptive education.

    Posted by Suricou Raven | October 3, 2006, 5:29 pm
  6. >"Literally, however, women shouldn't be in the position to "choose." The wholeness of being a woman includes accepting our bodies and our children."Wholeness of being a women? Just because something sounds profound, does not mean it must make sense. I dont know what you are trying to say, but for me the 'wholeness' of being a citizen of a country that values individual freedom says that women get the choice. Im certinly not getting stuck with one – there are no less than three barriers between me and unwanted parenthood, and abortion is the last of those.(The second is contraception. The first is that I am unattractive and have very strange preferences which more or less rule out sex)"We're not limited except as by external pressures. Given half a chance the woman above could have had the child and become a lawyer." Dont put words in her mouth. If she chose an abortion, that was her own choice, and I am sure she had her reasons. You cannot just assume she was forced into it by 'external pressures' against her will – and you certinly cant assume that without knowing a lot more about her.The fact that she later became an obnoxious attention-seeker has nothing to do with it :)You remind me of a number of extremally annoying people I have read articles by – the anti-abortion campaigners who claim to be defending women against the predatory, abusive, manipulative, dangerous Abortion Industry (Capitals are important for the Ominous Tone). Implicit in their pseudo-feminist talk of freedom to have chilren is the assumption that no woman is competant to choose for herself – anyone who choses an abortion has, by their definition, chosen wrong and so must be denied the choice.

    Posted by Suricou Raven | October 3, 2006, 10:38 pm
  7. >SR, I'm afraid that you forget that I came of age in 1974 (back then, in the US, 18 year olds could even drink alcohol legally) and have lived in a culture that accepted both contraception and unplanned parenthood while rejecting abortion. Good ol' Baptist "raising" that is only now being diluted by a lack of an expectation of the above. We managed well without ever considering doing what we deemed "heathern" (sic, it's "Texican," again) and sinful.I'm a former member of the La Leche League and home birth/natural and organic life style. I recognised the portion of truth in the anti-establishment/ "Hippies'"/ Eastern/ New Age philosophies: that all life is of a part and to be respected, since we are part of the same creation.Add in empathy, observation of and experiencing discrimination, and that belief that "there but for the grace of God, go I," that I really believe (and, again, have seen and experienced). And we really believe what we say, although we don't always live up to it. We do return as we're able to forgive ourselves enough to remember that God has already promised to forgive. (That's the grace part: we're forgivable even when we don't think we'd forgive us, ourselves.)I do believe that it's anti-female to "fix it" with a killing and irrevocable act that reaches into the body to do violence not only to yourself, but to your child. To do a horrible thing in self defense against an attacker is one thing. To perceive your own body as foreign and your own child as an attacker (I've read some women call their child a "parasite") is definitely a horrible thing.I believe that the prolife viewpoint is very compatible with feminism and the struggle against discrimination, sexual assault and domestic violence. It is a deception that a woman must choose. What man has to choose? The man and all of us should gather around to support moma and child.(There was a 19th century woman theologian who asked how different the world would be if we followed the command of God in the Garden of Eden: if husband left his family and the new family lived with hers. Each child would be more welcomed in the matriarchal home, each spouse would be an addition to the income making potential of the whole family rather than a mouth that produces more mouths. That's "feminism"!)Besides, I know a woman who, as part of the "Abortion Industry" helped design some of the schemes that deceive women. She's the one who was caught diagnosing pregnancy by testing a reporter's boyfriend's urine. I don't know if you've seen Richard Dawkin's blog on embyronic stem cell research, Collateral Damage. For some reason the author of The Selfish Gene isn't able to extrapolate his own theory to a reason to preserve the life of – or even identify – a member of the species.

    Posted by LifeEthics.org | October 4, 2006, 5:30 am

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