One man’s very personal abortion story

As always with something this emotionally naked and graphic, it’s difficult not to contextualize: As the writer himself asks, what would those who have arbitrarily drawn a line between a pregnant woman’s life and her health say about this account?


For clues, read the comments. A few committed pro-lifers couldn’t help but find clumsy ways to remind everyone that such stories are rare and that most instances of abortion are unnecessary, rooted solely in the mother’s lackadaisical or negligent attitude about parenting. We’re again expected by these people to accept the pro-life equation of abortion with murder.
Fine, fine. If it’s acceptable to say that abortion is “killing children,” then it’s only fair to call commenters like Christina, the hyperreligious, and others traditionallly labeled “sadly ignorant” or “uneducated” or “f*ckheads” what they are: mentally handicapped. This way, we can keep them from voting, wandering around in public without caregivers, and so forth. Sounds darconian, but why not? It suits my agenda, just as goofy terminology suits the mentally challenged arm of the pro-life zombie. Retards shouldn’t have the privileges the rest of us have.
Also, I have to check myself and ask how much confirmation bias contributes to my perception that people who hold ignorant or fringe opinions about things generally can’t spell or write for shit. I always spot more basic errors in the posts and comments of these people than in those I tend to side with.
I wonder to what extent this is the result of my giving my allies a subconscious free pass; I’d be willing to cede that this is part of the story, but not a big part.
Also, it would be wrong to propose that there’s a perfect or even superb correlation between someone’s ability to turn a phrase and the validity of his or her arguments (although I would argue for a strong one). Andrew Sullivan, who has repeatedly been prodded into saying very inane things by Sam Harris, is a good example of a “false positive” (pretty words, shitty arguments). I also know of more than a few “false negatives” (great arguments buried within awful presentations), but at the moment I can’t remember who they are, andI probably wouldn’t want to single them out anyway, because they’d just call me retarded and thereby try to revoke my Internet posting privileges.
Actually, I’m going to make a point sometime in the very near future of raising some extremely stupid points, ones I put no stock in at all, as eloquently as possible, as an experiment (which I would have been single-blind had I not just written that). For those who would reasonably say that I have been doing this daily for about thirty years, be advised that this time wil be different because I’ll be fully aware of arguing from bullshit (the argumentum ex stercore tauri logical fallacy).

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  1. #1 by Brian on April 25, 2007 - 1:49 pm

    The anti-abortion crowd knows damn well they don’t really believe abortion is exactly like killing live, full-term babies. If so, it is a sign or moral cowardice that they aren’t all out killing abortion doctors as any of us (I assume) would bust in the house next door and kill someone who was actively and daily engaged in the murder of actual children.
    I really hate when pro-choice folks paraphrase their pro-choice views with talking about how awful abortion is but that women should get to choose. An early pregnancy abortion is not awful or of much concern. A collection of cells without a brain or neural activity isn’t alive in any way that matters to moral thinking. If abortion is awful, arenlt they admitting that it is something close to murder, but merely priviledge the woman’s rights?

  2. #2 by Russell Miller on April 25, 2007 - 5:29 pm

    Brian – as someone who generally takes that view, let me explain where I come from. Let me also say that I am not discussing rape here, that’s another discussion.
    I don’t like abortion. I think it shows a callous disregard in most cases for accepting the consequences of one’s actions and for the potential life that you had a hand in creating.
    So why am I pro choice? Because, at least until the baby is viable, it’s the mother’s mistake to make.
    I don’t want anything to do with women who would have an abortion. I think it shows an appalling lack of character, and it’s my choice to not have anything to do with that (this is where *I* get choice). But… not my body, not my business.
    Of course, if I were the father and wanted the baby (that was created by an act of mutual consent), that would be an entirely different story, and I would consider it very much my business.

  3. #3 by JimFiore on April 25, 2007 - 6:15 pm

    “callous disregard in most cases”? What fantasy bus do you ride on?
    Ugh. Like I tell my students (about lab safety, not abortion): “Things happen. If you did them on purpose we’d call them on purposes, but we don’t because they’re accidents, so we call them accidents.”

  4. #4 by Russell Miller on April 25, 2007 - 6:41 pm

    JimFlore: If you don’t want an accident to happen, don’t do the thing that leads to the accident. If you accept the risks that a certain activity will bring, then you live with them.
    If a woman decides to have sex, and she takes precautions, such as birth control, condoms, etc., and a baby still happens… then that as a risk she chose to take by having sex, and that is what came out of it.
    It’s her choice what to do past then. I won’t make any effort to stop her or stop others from providing the service. But in my view, it’s the easy way out.
    I don’t consider my viewpoint the fantasy world at all. In fact, I consider those that think that there should be no consequences for their actions to be living in the fantasy world. But out of respect for Kevin, I won’t respond to this any further (Brian asked!). You can take it to email if you’d like (I’ll put the email address on my blog contact page).
    I will leave with this one thought – as I am not interfering at all with a woman’s “right to choose”, that is all that can be expected of me, and my opinions past that really aren’t up for debate. Discussion, perhaps, but not debate.

  5. #5 by Kevin Beck on April 25, 2007 - 7:06 pm

    Russell, although this was meant to call attention to the inanity of a recent SCOTUS decision rather than to abortion in general, please feel free to post any and all comments you like, even dissenting ones. That said, not only is this statement from you certainly “up for debate,” it’s mindless:
    “If a woman decides to have sex, and she takes precautions, such as birth control, condoms, etc., and a baby still happens … It’s her choice what to do past then. But in my view, [abortion] the easy way out.”
    You make the implicit and — someone correct me if I’m wrong — fucked-up assertion that because abortion is “easier” than giving birth (a statement which is itself debatable in many cases), it is automatically inferior, by some metric (a moral one, I imagine) to carrying the foetus to term.
    How does the fact that a given choice creates hardships make it more honorable? Isn’t this what you’re arguing?
    I could race a marathon after a three-day fast and not drink any fluids during the race and it would be hard as hell, but this clearly doesn’t make the effort more worthy than one marked by practical choices. Other, similarly plain and trivial examples abound.
    If someone is pregnant and in no position to care for a baby, it’s nothing but sensible to have an abortion. Arguing at this stage that she should have been more careful is irrelevant to the determination of what constitutes an “easy” choice for someone who’s pregnant.
    Despite your reminders that you are in fact pro-choice, you sound very much like the pro-lifers who believe that the need to punish women for having what they hoped was non-procreative sex is sufficient reason to make her give birth and screw whatever evils befall the child (which they constantly remind us is “innocent” — at least before the wailing little fucker is born) afterward.

  6. #6 by Left_Wing_Fox on April 25, 2007 - 7:28 pm

    If you don’t want an accident to happen, don’t do the thing that leads to the accident.
    But you aren’t talking about “accepting consequences”. You’re talking about denying treatment for the consequences. Unless you also believe that men should not be treated for sexually transmitted diseases; another completely natural and predictable consequence of sexual activity, then you have a completely arbitrary double standard.
    Pregnancy is a life-changing event, fraught with illness, threats to physica and mental health. A woman’s body will often go through permanent changes after pregnancy. It’s a path that only women who want to have children should have to travel; to subject a woman to that for nine months when they don’t desire it is frankly appalling. And at the end, we expect the woman to either give away the child (and hope that it’s healthy and white, or risk remaining trapped in the adoption system), or care for it herself, even if she hasn’t the resources or the desire to do so? Now that’s punishing the child for the actions of the mother.
    I would suggest you think carefully about the “consequence” argument.

  7. #7 by JimFiore on April 25, 2007 - 9:52 pm

    “Unless you also believe that men should not be treated for sexually transmitted diseases; another completely natural and predictable consequence of sexual activity, then you have a completely arbitrary double standard.”
    Precisely. Here’s something more mundane: I brush my teeth after eating candy so that I don’t get cavities. I can get cavities anyway. By Russell’s logic I should not get the cavities filled so that I can bear the weight of the consequences of eating candy. Fillings would be the “easy way out”. Russell says that fillings are my choice, but he’d have nothing to do with me because of that choice.

  8. #8 by Kevin Beck on April 25, 2007 - 10:40 pm

    The direction this discussion has gone in combined with the stuff I’ve been reading a book by Stephen Pinker has me on the verge of unleashing a long-ass comment about the nature of human moral impulses, but I’ll save it for a post. Suffice it to say that it’s been confirmed beyond a doubt that we often “know” something is morally wrong even when it isn’t, as evidenced by our often frustrating inability to explain our gut convictions. The gut is a shitty source to cite, and not just because of the material lining its lower reaches.

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