Monday, February 28, 2005

Another Hero of Choice

The Detroit Free Press and Click on Detroit reported that a Michigan abortionist, Rodolfo Finkelstein, was arrested in September of 2004 for molesting 3 patients. LifeNews reports that on February 25, a preliminary hearing was held.

The Daily Oakland Press reports, "Much of the testimony was graphic, detailing alleged inappropriate touching and penetration of a now 21-year-old woman who reportedly sought out Finkelstein for a second trimester abortion last summer."

The old Free Press article states, "The women told investigators that Finkelstein created opportunities to be alone with them, police said. He allegedly made sexual remarks -- such as "Don't you want me?" -- and then kissed and fondled the women, according to investigators; in one case, the woman was digitally penetrated."

Finkelstein has been free on bond since September and has most likely still been performing abortions for the last 5 months.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Three more weeks

Blogs for Terri is reporting that Terri will be given at least 3 more weeks to live. However, Judge Greer has ruled that "absent a stay from the appellate courts, the guardian, Michael Schiavo, shall cause the removal of nutrition and hydration from the ward, Theresa Schiavo, at 1:00 p.m. on March 18, 2005.

They are also linking to this column by Kevin McCullough.

Why some people are pro-choice?

The more I talk with pro-choice people on the internet or read pro-choice blogs, the more I realize that many of these pro-choice aren't very informed about the things they are talking about - especially with regards to fetal development. Jill at Third Wave is a perfect example. In her piece on embryonic stem cell research, she asserts, "although I can't concede that an embryo, which is a fertilized egg and not even a fetus, is the moral equivalent to a living, breathing human being."

A human embryo killed for her stem cells is not a fertilized egg. A fertilized egg or zygote is a human being made of one cell. You couldn't really create a pluripotent stem cell line from a single-celled organism whose one cell happens to be totipotent. The embryos that are destroyed for their stem cells are 5-7 days old and are organisms of around 100 cells.

Jill then claims that the argument that "adult stem cells are more successful because they have cured people while embryonic stem cells have not" can be put to rest. Why? She links to this article in the NY Times about a researcher that hopes to use embryonic stem cells to cure paralysis in humans. Somehow she thinks that one researcher hoping to help paralysis in humans with embryonic stem cells is proof enough to dispel the fact that adult stem cells have been much more successful in treating a variety of ailments.

Jill seems to be unfortunately ignorant of the use of olfactory stem cells to help those afflicted with paralysis by doctors in Portugal.

Just when you thought Planned Parenthood couldn't get any worse

Planned Parenthood's sex site for teens (and younger), is featuring an article with a link from their front page regarding statutory rape and underage girls having sex with older men. One of the links in the article was to a site called Age of Consent, which seems to be run by pedophiles (which is why I'm not linking to it directly). Dawn Eden discovered the article yesterday and posted on it and the link to the Age of Consent web site.

Since then the paragraph that included the link to the Age of Consent web site has been taken down. Paul at Catholic Cadet was kind enough to go cache diving and found the original article. He has posted it here.

How many children accessed this link to the Age of Consent web site and then clicked on other pages and found "dozens upon dozens of articles offering justification for having sex with children and viewing child pornography?"

Also notice how the author's name has changed from Terry Miller Shannon to Juhie Bhatia. Maybe Terry Miller Shannon didn't want her career ruined. She has her own website and has written numerous other articles for the Teenwire site.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Infants and Life Support

Here's a story that is somewhat similar (the infant is on life support while Terri is not) to Terri Schiavo's case but has garnered much less attention.

A woman in Texas named Wanda Hudson is fighting against the hospital to keep her infant son named Sun on life support. Sun was born with "thanatophoric dysplasia, a genetic condition characterized by extremely short limbs, a narrow chest, small ribs and underdeveloped lungs. Infants usually are stillborn or die shortly after birth from respiratory failure. There have been rare documented cases of survivors, however."

A week ago, the Judge William C. McCulloch said, "I'm not saying whether they can or can't, but I am saying that they are not restrained. I am no longer prohibiting the hospital from removing Sun from life support."

Another article quotes John Paris, a Jesuit priest who teaches medical ethics at Boston College and has written extensively on the subject: "No judge has ever ordered the cessation of treatment while the baby is still alive," said. "Never."

Strolling in the Neighborhood

I'm going to try to make it a weekly habit to link to other another blog on the Evangelical Blogroll that I've never visited before. I've been meaning to do this for some time but have failed.

Today I visited The Banty Rooster by blogger Brian Mattson. Some posts that I enjoyed especially include Are Science & Theism Antagonistic? and his post on Powerline's assessment of Hillary.

Persons or property that happens to be human?

Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost is posting on this column by FindLaw's Sherry Colb.

Joe readily handles the basic thesis of Colb's argument that human embryos should be viewed as human property so I'll just comment on some leftover scraps.

Some quotes from Ms. Colb that I find odd include:

"Even if you take the latter of these positions (that the unborn are persons from conception), you might still believe that abortion should be legally permissible. You could take the view that an abortion kills a person but only in the way that refusing to donate blood or a kidney to someone who needs your blood or your kidney kills a person. "

You could take the view that intentionally killing a living person is the same as not doing everything you can to save someone who is already dying? Talk about ripping off the violinist. Somehow I can't understand how people can equate the two. My action of not sending enough money to save starving children in Africa is not the same as a decision to dismember a toddler.

"But what about the fact that stem cell research saves lives? That fact is relevant only if embryos are non-persons.

If they are persons, by contrast, then the fact that experimenting upon them would save lives has no more force in this context than it does in other human experimentation contexts.

She seemingly asserts in one sentence that embryonic stem cell research has saved lives when in fact it has done no such thing. It also seems that this part of her essay is trying to show that the unborn aren't really persons because some people who think that personhood begins at conception are also in favor of in-vitro fertilization and/or embryonic stem cell research.

"The difficulty with Judge Lawrence's wrongful death ruling - under this set of assumptions - is that it fails to correspond to people's intuitions about fertilized eggs and embryos that are made up of undifferentiated cells that have divided for only a few days after fertilization. A small cluster of undifferentiated tissue may mean a great deal to the man and woman whose cells gave rise to it, but most of us do not view that tissue as a person."

That tissue? I don't even know if an early embryo made up around 100 cells actually has what an scientist would call tissue. What an odd choice of words unless the sole purpose of that word choice was to dehumanize a self-integrating human being in the early stages of development.

Also, notice the survey method of reasoning. To Colb it seems that how "most" people feel about the unborn determines what they are. If most of us view embryos as non-persons well then they are, of course, non-persons. That same kind of reasoning would have worked for the slaveowner.

"When a child (or even a developing fetus after a certain point) dies, a person with characteristics such as sentience has lost something that he or she previously had. That loss stands in addition to that of the family members who mourn for the child.

In contrast, when an embryo is discarded by mistake, the only ones who lose are other people -- just as only other people lose when a couple decides not to have intercourse (and thus not to produce a child who could have been a wonderful person)."

To Kolb you can't lose your life and your life doesn't matter unless you have sentience and killing a human embryo is the moral equivalent of not having sex. She fails to recognize that the embryo is already produced. Sentience doesn't make something come into existence. The human embryo already exists. The human embryo isn't a "could have been," the human embryo is an "is." She is already a whole self-integrating human being who is currently not fully developed while sperm and egg are merely parts of other people.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Protecting Gay Unborn Children from Discrimination

Legislators in Maine have introduced this bill to prevent sex selection abortions and abortions based on the "homosexual gene."

The bill summary's states:

"This bill prohibits an abortion when the reason for the termination of the pregnancy is the projected sexual orientation of the fetus after it is born. The projected sexual orientation would be determined by analysis of the genetic materials of the fetus in which the projected sexual orientation is identified through the presence or absence of a so-called "homosexual gene.""

It seems that Planned Parenthood isn't too excited about this bill. Their blogger at is all for gay rights as long as those rights don't interfere with a woman's choice to kill her gay child before that child is born based solely on that child's supposed sexual preferences. Are there any abortions that Planned Parenthood is against?

Oh no, he didn't

Ted Rall is back at it with this column on bloggers.

He ends with:

"Bloggers are ordinary people, many of them uneducated and with nothing interesting to say. They're sitting in their rec rooms, regurgitating and spinning what real journalists have dug up through hard work. They don't have sources, they don't report, and no one holds them accountable when they make mistakes or flat out lie. Yeah, there's a new sheriff in town. Unfortunately he's drunk, he's mean, and he works for the bad guys."

They don't have sources? Yeah, it's not like bloggers can link to information or interview people. Only real journalists can do that.

Captain Ed, who is the main blogger Rall mentions, fires back with this:

"Unfortunately, Rall appears ideologically unable to coexist with the truth, but as anyone who has had the unpleasant experience of reading Rall in the past knows, that condition appears incurable in his case. Rall doesn't really even have enough of a connection to reality to enrage; he just provides amusement, like a crazy old uncle locked in his rec room, typing and muttering about all of the people out to get him. Too bad he's not important enough for it, and that he doesn't even know it."

Another money quote from Rall:

"the fact is that the political blogs are dominated by the hard right. Such a development might have served as a laudable counterbalance during the 1930s, a period of liberal political hegemony. But when talk radio, cable television news, and all three branches of the federal and most state governments are under the control of the right, the blogger wolf pack merely serves to further ossify a dangerously out of whack ideological imbalance."

Why is it dangerous that are country is politically imbalanced? Would Rall think it dangerous if his ideology was actually main stream and popular?

Cable television news is under the control of the right? Last time I checked Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, and Ted Turner weren't really lap dogs for Karl Rove.

Rall somehow graduated from Columbia after dropping out for 6 years. So much for an Ivy League education.

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

UPDATE: If you want you see what Sullivan said to get Rall upset and think about suing - you can read it here.

Debating Personhood

A blogger named Zed (I always think of that creepy scene in Pulp Fiction when I hear that name) at Resonant Information is blogging about the unborn and personhood.

Zed is pro-choice but interestingly admits that, "How a "person" is defined by anyone is weirdly arbitrary, and is very much at the heart of this matter." I rarely ever encounter someone who is pro-choice but is willing to admit that the defining of personhood is arbitrary. I commend Zed for this. He goes on to list numerous criteria for personhood that people have and then says, "the choice will be arbitrary because there's absolutely no scientific basis for declaring someone a person before the reactions are present that allow us to recognize something as intelligent life."

I agree with Zed that "personhood" is a criteria that is wholly arbitrary but I think he fails to see to the word "personhood" is solely being used by one group of human beings to discriminate against another group of human beings.

Zed continues by saying, "In my mind, in a conflict of interest between something that might be a person, but for which the question is controversial, and someone that is definitely a person, the definite person wins every time."

First, the interests are equal - the unborn's interest is their life - the mother's interest is not her life is the vast majority of abortions.

Second, if there is a possibility that one is worthy of protection doesn't that mean we should make sure before we kill 1.3 million entities each year that could be worthy of protection. After 9/11, rescue workers used buckets not bulldozers because they thought there might be human beings worthy of protection under the rubble. Did their interests of clearing the rubble take precedent over the possibility that a human being could be saved.

Another scenario, I'm hunting and I see something move in the bushes. It could be the 10-point buck I saw in that area earlier but it could also be a fellow hunter. Do my interests of shooting a big buck take precedents over the possibility that I might be shooting a fellow human being in the head.

Plus, how do we know born children are persons if the criteria is arbitrary? What about a Satan worshipper whose religion tells her that her newborn child isn't a "person?" Should she be allowed to kill that child because she thinks the child isn't a person?

Zed then goes on to post a creative scenario similar to Ronald Bailey's "ten embryos or one child." The basic idea is that you have to choose which you will save. In the comments section, a blogger named Abby provides a similar scenario I posted on Third Wave Agenda's blog. Thanks Abby.

In the comments section, Zed tries to refute my hypothetical by 1. trying to make a hyptothetical not hypothetical (my choice doesn't matter) - yes, it does. That's the hypothetical. 2. Assuming the position he is attempting to prove (the Indians are people) - exactly, that's the point. Choosing something you're more emotionally attached to doesn't mean that the human beings you aren't emotionally attached to aren't worthy of protection. 3. Confusing the issue - the issue is whether or not the unborn are worthy of protection not whether the abortionist (the person to be jailed) is choosing between the woman and her embryos. The abortionist isn't choosing between the two - he's killing one to make money. Putting his intentions equivalent to saving the mother's life isn't a proper hypothetical for abortion.

Zed continues his original post by asking, "Can you jail someone for preventing the mother and child from a risk, or preventing them from "merely" being burned or inhaling some smoke, at the cost of cooking twenty embryos?"

This hypothetical attempts to put the abortionist in the position of decision maker between saving the life/reducing the risk of the women or saving the embryos. But this is almost completely unparallel. It avoids the reality that abortion often puts the woman at risk. It avoids the reality that the abortionist intentionally cooks the embryos himself - not merely letting it happen. It also acts like the abortionist has same high set of motives when that is usually not the case.

Zed's post then takes a turn for the worse as he accuses prolifers of really just being "pro-birth" and saying that "Support of anti-abortion laws is nothing less than the intent of jailing others for having a difference of faith."

This is a weak jab at the motives of prolifers and an attempt to protect the killing of human beings under the guise of religious liberty. Would Zed want to jail a satanist for sacrificing her born child simply because she has a difference of faith? What about Islamic extremists who think that killing Americans is what Allah wants them to do? Should they be punished for practicing their religion?

Also of note is that in the comments section Zed links to probably the worst explanation of the beginning of life in any "biology" textbook that I've ever seen.

"Is a zygote or an embryo alive? Is a zygote or an embryo a human being? These are intricate philosophical questions that often incite intense debate"

Anyone that thinks that whether something is alive or is a member of a certain species is a question for philosophy isn't being honest with themselves. The author then quotes books/journal articles on abortion instead of embryology textbooks. Who needs embryologists and scientists to tell us what embryos are when we have a bunch of philosophers?

I'll post more on this later. For now, I'll direct those who think that the beginning of life is up in the air to my sidebar.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Blogging for Michael

I came across the following scary quote at Rangel MD.

"Despite what you hear in the press about Michael Schiavo ("he sued the doctors for a million dollars and now he is after her life insurance . . he doesn't want her around anymore because he has a girlfriend a new child") he remained by her side for eight years without getting a divorce and when it became clear that Terri's condition was not going to improve and knowing what he did about her wishes he petitioned the court to act as surrogate to decide what to do."

Remained by her side for 8 years? Posting do not resuscitate orders, ordering doctors not to treat Terri's infection, living with another woman, trying to get her feeding tube removed, and denying Terri rehabiliative treatment aren't really what I would consider remaining by someone's side.

Think about how scary this world would be if we all had people like Michael Schiavo to remain by our sides. Can a rational person actually believe that a man who spends hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked to care for his wife on attorneys in order have his wife killed really cares about her?

Another Day with Food

Terri Schiavo has been granted another day to be fed. Judge Greer has issued a temporary stay until 5 p.m. on February 23.

More at Terri's Fight and Blogs for Terri.

Life Matters has a round up of the best of the best blog posts about Terri.

Supreme Court to consider challenge to Oregon's use of drugs in suicides

The Supreme Court today decided that it would take up the Bush's administration attempt to stop some of Oregon's doctors from prescribing federally controlled substances to assist in suicide.

Fairly early in the Bush administration, former Attorney General John Ashcroft ruled that the Controlled Substance Act allowed the U.S. government to stop physicians from prescribing federally-controlled drugs with the purpose of ending a life. Ashcroft, unlike his predecessor Janet Reno, understood that prescribing federally-controlled substances to intentionally end a life is not a legitimate medical purpose.

The story from Bloomberg.

The International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide has good some background information here.

It should be noted that position of the Justice Department doesn't overturn Oregon's law - it merely is trying to prevent the misuse of federally-controlled substances. Even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Justice Department, doctors in Oregon could still assist in suicides by prescribing lethal doses of substances that aren't controlled by the federal government.

Hat Tip: Katherine Lopez at The Corner.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Assisted Suicide Smackdown

Serge at points me to this debate between author Wesley Smith and California legislator Patty Berg regarding assisted suicide. Berg must be feeling like she got hit by a train.

Some classic quotes from Berg:

"Smith and I agree that the hospice is the gold standard of end-of-life care. But medical experts of every persuasion admit that in 5 to 10 percent of cases, even the best comfort care cannot adequately address end-of-life suffering. Shall we simply abandon those whose suffering we cannot relieve?"

Hello Patty. You're the one who wants to abandon them. Berg is advocating that instead of trying to treat pain and depression we merely allow those in pain to end their lives and then suggests that people who want to help these people are abadoning them. Talk about irony.

"The message sent is that society will not abandon its dying, but will honor their choices, their values and convictions, even to their last dying breath."

The message sent is that society will abandon its dying instead of actually treating/caring for them. The message sent is that people who are dying and are in pain are somehow less valuable than others who aren't dying.

The best part of the debate is at the end when Berg basically asserts that Wesley's real opposition to assisted-suicide is because he believes in the "redemptive power of suffering."

His response:

Finally, we see the usual desperate tactic of assisted-suicide advocates who can't win on the facts. They trot out the tired old cliché that their opponent is pushing religion.

Well, Assemblywoman Berg, I have said nothing about religion. Nor do I think suffering is redemptive. I oppose assisted suicide because it is bad medicine and worse public policy, particularly in a milieu of family dysfunction, in which millions have no health insurance and services for the elderly are being ravaged.


Wesley Smith has his own blog. Visit it often. He is probably one of the strongest voices (if not the strongest voice) on embryonic stem cell research, cloning, and assisted suicide.

Quick links

Amy Welborn posts a reader's question/take on a possible Senate race between Rick Santorum and Bob Casey Jr. Some commenters think that Casey might be holding on to the coattails of his father's prolife credentials. When Casey was running for governor of Pennsylvania versus Ed Rendell in 2002, he had the support of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation while NARAL spent money on television ads supporting Rendell. To get the support of a state prolife organization Casey would have most likely needed to fill out a questionnaire regarding his views on abortion and its legality.

The United Nations General Assembly's legal committee has voted to ban all forms of human cloning. More info at The Thing Is and LifeNews.

Prolife Blogs points us to this column by Barbara Simpson about Terri Schiavo.

There's more at the Blogs for Terri Aggregator including this piece by Hyscience which features quotes from the book by Michael Schiavo's euthanasia advocate/attorney George Felos. Whacky indeed.

Smallest survivor of heart surgery

A child, named Jerrick De Leon, born 13 weeks premature recently became the world's smallest infant to survive heart surgery. The surgery was done when Jerrick was a week old and weighed around 24 ounces (two cans of pop).

It's amazing how some doctors can operate on a heart "the size of a grape" to save the life of a child while others can use different tools to kill unborn children who are the same size as Jerrick.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Debating Dean

Howard Dean had his first debate last night in Portland as the new Democratic chairman vs. Richard Perle on national defense/the war in Iraq.

A left-of-center blogger New Frames blogged about it here.

The debate was interrupted at one point when an audience member threw a shoe at Perle and called him a "(expletive) liar!"

New Frames liked the following points by Dean:

"We don't have a strong defense policy when we're dependent on Saudi Arabia for our energy needs."

"His response was that the GOP won, not because they are stronger on defense, but because they were better at framing themselves as being stronger and the Dems as being weaker."

"He believes we need to have better trade agreements that help promote freedom."

New Frames, however, wasn't as upbeat about things like this from Perle:

"He said that one day people will look back at the US invasion of Iraq as the turning point in history where freedom began to spread to the rest of the oppressed regions of the world. He insisted that US style democracy in Iraq is the seed to freedom and security for all."

At first Dean requested a media blackout but then quickly changed his mind. Powerline says the "debate" will air next week Saturday. I'm bummed I don't have cable.

UPDATE: A commenter at Wizbang quotes Austin Powers: "Who throws a shoe?"

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Black History Month

During February Planned Parenthood has been celebrating Black History Month. Their inexplicably horrible entry today features a black doctor, Edgar Keemer, who started illegally aborting black unborn children in 1938. Isn't it great that Planned Parenthood is celebrating Black History Month by featuring the story of a man that illegally killed black children? Hip-hip-hooray! Let's celebrate black history by cheering a man that made sure numerous black children would never get to be a part of recorded history or get to celebrate black history.

The article declares Keemer and other abortionists that broke the law to be the "unsung heroes of the reproductive rights movement." Gag me. Isn't crazy how Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice organizations declare how dangerous abortion was before Roe vs. Wade but then celebrate the people that were performing these dangerous "back-alley" abortions as heroes? Oh wait. Keemer is probably considered great because he was providing "safe" abortions while numerous other quack doctors were providing dangerous abortions. Oh ok, that's makes a lot of sense.

This part really gets me, "Their crime? Providing safe abortions at a time when they were illegal." Their crime? Breaking the law. Good golly! How dare the police arrest someone for breaking the law.

Here is something I wish Planned Parenthood or NARAL (especially since they want to reduce abortion) would talk about during Black History Month: the over representation of Black women at abortion clinics.

According to the CDC (table 1), Black women had 36.6% of our nation's abortions in 2001 even though African-Americans were only 12.3% of our nation's population according to the 2000 census.

In Michigan, Black women get 38.2% of the state's abortions yet African-Americans are only 14.2% of Michigan's population.

In New York, Black women get 42.1% of the state's abortions yet African-Americans are only 15.9% of New York's population.

In North Carolina, women of a minority race get 50.4% of the state's abortions yet people who aren't white are only 27.9% of North Carolina's population.

In Virginia, Black women get 41.2% of the state's abortions yet African-Americans are only 19.6% of Virginia's population.

The list goes on and on and on. The over representation of Black women and unborn Black children at abortion clinics is an enormous problem. There are more than 400,000 abortions performed on Black women each year. There have probably been more than 14 million black unborn children who have been aborted since 1973.

What kind of history could those children have made? We'll probably never know.

UPDATE: Dawn Eden has more on Planned Parenthood's roots.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Embryology quote of the week

"every time a sperm cell and ovum unite, a new being is created which is alive and will continue to live unless its death is brought about by some specific condition."

(E.L. Potter, M.D., and J.M. Craig, M.D. Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant (3rd Edition). Chicago: Year Book Medical Publishers, 1975, page vii.)

Past pieces on Terri Schiavo

A good old piece by Deroy Murdock in the National Review.

It contains some factoids I couldn't recall ever hearing like:

"After wining control of Terri's treatment, plus medical malpractice and other legal awards totaling some $1.6 million, Michael had Terri's cats, Shanna and Tolly, put to sleep."


Michael Schiavo "told attorneys in November 1992 that he took Terri's engagement and wedding rings and 'made a ring for myself.'"

This story at World Net Daily described Terri's reaction when she was told that she might die.

Another story about how Terri and her teeth have been neglected.

Doesn't it seem odd that a man who acts like he wants what is best for his wife and is just trying to fulfill her wishes would kill her cats, take her ring, and let her be so badly neglected? Even if Terri did say she wanted not to be keep alive by being feed via a tube, wouldn't she still want to be taken care of until the time of her death?

Was it Terri's wish that her teeth not be taken care of?

Blogicus has more on Michael's "care" for Terri.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A Challenge from JT

JT at Between Two Worlds has challenged Imago Dei and I to respond to the question of what will happen if abortion is made illegal again. Though it's immensely unfair to ask for my take and then post Beckwith's reply, I'll try my best. I'm guessing Serge's post will be better than mine.

Beckwith frames the pro-choice objection this way:

"If abortion is made illegal, many women will be prosecuted, convicted, and/or sentenced for murder (a capital offense in some states), because the changed law will entail that abortion in almost every circumstance entails the unjustified and premeditated killing of an innocent person (the unborn). Such a situation will unnecessarily cause emotional and familial harm to women who are already in a desperate situation (i.e., seeking an illegal abortion).

Such laws, if instituted, will lack compassion.

If they are not instituted, the pro-lifer will lack consistency."

I've been confronted with this argument before. Most of the time it is framed in a question, something like: "If abortion was illegal would you prosecute women who have abortions or try to obtain an abortion or even try to perform an abortion on themselves?" or "If you'd arrest and prosecute abortionists for killing fetuses wouldn't the woman who sought out the abortionist be at least an accomplice and therefore be guilty of some crime as well?"

What I've realized is that most pro-choice people who ask that question don't really care what your answer is. You can answer that question either way but you'll be attacked regardless of what you say.

If you want to prosecute women who seek abortions or perform abortions on themselves then you're a compassionless woman-hater who doesn't really believe that women are being victimized by abortion. You just want to control women's bodies by keeping them barefoot and pregnant.

If you don't want to prosecute women then you are a chauvinist pig who thinks that women are like little children who shouldn't be held responsible for their decisions.

The basic motive is to discredit prolifers and the prolife position without actually proving 1.) that abortion doesn't kill an innocent human being or 2.) that intentionally killing innocent human beings isn't wrong.

What about the women who know what they are doing?

Beckwith does an excellent job of explaining how prolifers view women as a second victim in the abortion but it is true that many women know what they are doing (they know that they are allowing someone to kill their child) yet go ahead with it anyway.

But how would we know? The woman would basically have to tell the police or admit to friends or family that she knew her actions would kill a child yet she was going ahead with it anyways. It just seems like that would be totally impossible to prove especially if you needed the woman to testify against the abortionist.

I'm personally not in favor of locking up women for long periods of time for seeking illegal abortions or having abortions performed on them. I think these women need help more than they deserve jail time. To a certain extent anyone who knowningly kills their own child needs help.

I would also point out that even if these women know what they are doing - there is most likely a measure of coercion from the people in her life. Assisted suicide could be a similar example. We wouldn't prosecute someone seeking assisted suicide but we'd prosecute the person that performed it. We recognize that these people need love and help not time behind bars.

If women who have abortions aren't punished does that devalue the unborn?

I don't think so. We don't punish people who try to commit suicide. Does that mean their lives have been devalued? We punish people to varying degrees for killing human beings. Penalties can range from capital punishment to less than 10 years in jail for some manslaughter convictions. This doesn't mean that the person killed intentionally in a state with capital punishment is more valuable than the person killed by someone in the heat of passion or other circumstances. It just means that we set up laws to deal with the variety of circumstances involved when a human being is killed.

That's my take for better or worse.

Random links

Wesley Smith has an article at National Review about legislators in Washington trying to pull the same switch-a-roo that other legislators tried to pull in Michigan and are pulling in Massachusetts.

Janette at Common Sense Runs Wild posts on the pain of death by starvation. That Michael Schiavo - he's such a caring husband.

A fellow Christian blogger, Joshua Michael, blogged about the favorite game of my wife and I earlier this year. My wife and I should really invite another couple to join us because every Sunday it's a one-on-one grudge match. The game is addicting - especially with only two people because it goes some much quicker - and it's your turn every other time.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A response to Keenan

Serge has a great response to this letter from NARAL's Nancy Keenan that calls on prolifers to help NARAL prevent abortions.

I'm still wondering why NARAL wants to reduce the # of abortions. Why would America be a better country if no women ever faced the difficult choices posed by an unintended pregnancy? Would America be a better country if no man ever faced the difficult choices posed by the menu at Taco Bell? Chili chesse burrito or nacho bell grande? That sounds terribly trivial compared to abortion (and it is) but why is it trivial while abortion isn't?

The simple answer is because a human being's life is involved. If the life of a human being wasn't at stake then why is abortion a difficult decision? If abortion doesn't take the life of human being then it seems like a mere surgical procedure that involves a certain amount of risks to the woman (as almost every surgical procedure does) but would be a way (though somewhat costly) to prevent unintended pregnancies and the birth of an unplanned child that would cost a lot more than $400.

It's also funny to claim you want to reduce abortions but at the same time be in favor of having tax dollars pay for abortions and be upset about there not being enough access to abortion. That's like saying, "let's work together to reduce drug use but I think that poor people should be able to acquire cocaine for free and we should have distribution centers in every Walgreen's."

It's cloning but it's not really cloning

Don't offer your arm to an alligator because he may decide to take your whole arm. That's the lesson that Massachusetts' governor Mitt Romney is learning after agreeing to kill "leftover" embryos for research but wanting to stop human cloning.

Two of Massachusetts' state senators recently penned an op-ed with this outright lie:

" Some opponents have attempted to create fear and confusion by raising unfounded concerns and suggesting that our bill opens the door to human cloning. It does not. The bill does allow researchers to create small groups of cells (too tiny to be seen by the human eye) that can serve as a source of replacement tissue for damaged organs or as a cure for life-threatening illnesses. This remarkable process, somatic cell nuclear transfer (or ''therapeutic cloning"), allows researchers to develop small groups of cells identical to a patient's specific illness, so that a patient can avoid immune-suppressive drugs which cause pain and suffering during organ transplants, or terminal illness treatment. Opponents carelessly attack this type of research as ''cloning new embryos," but somatic cell nuclear transfer does not involve the creation of fertilized eggs, nor does it involve the cloning of human beings."

We're not cloning embryos and then killing them by removing their cells. No, no, no, we're just cloning cells. We can't have prolifers telling the truth umm... "carelessly attacking" somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) by telling the public that SCNT is the scientific term for cloning.

Their legislation even defines an embryo as including "any human embryo whether formed by fertilization, somatic cell nuclear transfer, parthenogenesis, or other means." (emphasis mine)

Also, notice how they use the word "can" twice with regards to what cloned embryonic stem cells "can" do. Maybe I'm being picky but shouldn't that be "might" or "we hope that this research can" when no one has been cured with embryonic stem cells, much less embryonic stem cells from cloned embryos.

They continue by saying, "We cannot let their hope be taken hostage by ignorance, misinformation, or political posturing."

We'd rather instill a false hope and get rid of ethical dilemmas by using ignorance, misinformation, and political posturing.

The really sad thing is that Travaglini (one of the senators) is a member of the Knights of Columbus.

Wesley Smith has more at The Corner.

On Valentine's Day

Some reasons why my wife is the best:

She lets me have a pool table in our dining room
She did our taxes on Friday night when I had to work
She has a competitive spirit. When I beat her at a game she wants to play again to avenge her loss
She realizes that changing some of my habits is close to impossible
She gets excited about little things
I'm never bored when she's around
She always encourages and compliments me
She reads my blog
I still catch her looking at her wedding ring 6 months after our marriage
She can bench press 65 pounds

Friday, February 11, 2005

How is Feeding Someone "Artificial Life Support?"

George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney, was recently quoted as saying, "Assuming the mandate does issue on Feb. 22, then the last stay in place automatically ends and Mr. Schiavo is authorized to direct the removal of the artificial life support."

Note to Mr. Felos: Feeding someone isn't artificial life support.

Are women that nurse their children keeping them alive artificially?

How is starving and dehydrating someone letting them die naturally?

If I forget to feed my cats, am I removing their artificial life support and letting them die naturally?

HT: Life News

Much more news about Terri at Prolife Blogs and Hyscience.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

More "I'm Not Sorry" Stories

Emily at After Abortion has informed me that there are new stories from women who've had abortions at I'm Not Sorry.

Though in many ways the stories are similar, they also differ dramatically. Morgan tells us, "I never felt any connection with either fetus. There was not one twitter of maternal feeling."


"I firmly believe there is no such thing as the "Post-Abortion Syndrome" that many in the anti-choice movement like to trumpet. Sometimes, it's simple regret that is fueled by guilt-mongerers around them. Sometimes, they don't want or know how to take responsibility for their choice and will blame anyone from their families to the baby daddy to the doctor in their attempts to avoid reality. Some cases are about the woman having a pathological, narcissistic fantasy of victimhood. They get attention and stroking by playing the victim card, so they play it for all it's worth instead of getting the mental health help they desperately need to grow up and be a responsible adult."

While Lynn says, "My boyfriend and I both agreed, with some sadness, that it would be in everyone's best interest to abort....I felt if timing was the only thing that was off, then why not maybe go for it? But the cliché "timing is everything" is correct. I want to really want my child."

The interesting thing to me is that almost every woman who says that she isn't sorry feels the need to explain her circumstances and point out that it would have been impossible or extremely difficult to raise the child. If they aren't sorry about their choice why do they need to rationalize their choice? Why do they need to explain their choice by basically saying that they had no other choice?

I found Nikki's story to be especially sad. She says, "I was molested as young kid. Now, over ten years later, my body is still a foreign, dangerous territory, a place where things happen without my control or consent. When I found out I was pregnant, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I did it. I never felt so connected to my own body, my blood, my sexuality, my life and my fate before. For the first time in a long, long time I felt my body was my own. Aborting an unwanted pregnancy was the sacrament that delivered me home again."

Why Can't We Identify With Them Both?

There are a couple of new pieces regarding abortion at Salon (you have to view a short commercial to get a site pass).

In one article, the author interviews a variety of prominent pro-choicers regarding Hillary's speech and other abortion issues.

One part that I found interesting is on page 5. Susan Hill, the president of the "National Women's Health Organization, which runs women's health clinics in six midsize cities" says that before she started in the abortion business, a doctor told her, "Before you start this, you have to sit down and search your soul. In the issue of abortion you have to identify with either the fetus or the woman, because at some point there's a choice and you cannot identify with both. You decide which one you're going to be the advocate for."

Hill then says, "Thirty-two years later, my choice is always to help the woman."

Why can't we identify with both? Why do we have to pit women against their children in a grudge match for our interests? Why can't we reach out to woman in a crisis pregnancy and help her and her child? Shouldn't the fact that there is a conflict between a woman and the child she is carrying tell us that there is something wrong with this situation?

The other article is written by a woman who had a second trimester abortion because her child had a genetic abnormality. She admits that she killed her fetus.

Excerpts include:

"He was my baby, and I chose to end his life."

"I also believe that to end a pregnancy like mine is to kill a fetus. Kill. I use that word very consciously and specifically."

"I have no regrets."

"I did not want to raise a genetically compromised child. I did not want my children to have to contend with the massive diversion of parental attention, and the consequences of being compelled to care for their brother after I died. I wanted a genetically perfect baby, and because that was something I could control, I chose to end his life."

"I was catapulted into a six-month depression after the abortion, a depression that ended only when I got pregnant again."

Read the whole thing.

How many women millions of women in our country know that their decision led to the death of their child? How many women think that it was ok of them to end the life of their child? Do the women that talk like this really believe that what they did was ok? How many millions of people understand that abortion kills an innocent human baby but think that killing innocent human babies should be legal?

Does the prolife movement possibly need to shift its focus from telling people that abortion hurts women and kills babies to teaching people that killing babies is wrong and should be illegal?

I think the prolife movement has won the educational battle. I think people (for the most part) know that abortion kills a human being - that's why even pro-choicers want less abortions. Yet because of their circumstances, moral relativism's dire effect on their thinking, and our society's acceptance of abortion - countless people think that killing an innocent human being should remain legal.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

RU-486 - I'm Hatin' It

I've previously discussed the Adverse Events Reports regarding RU-486 but I thought it was worth another post. I actually think these reports are worth a lot more than my 2 posts. Do any other prolife bloggers want to post on these reports? I'll link to any blog that does.

This time I want to discuss ectopic pregnancies and how abortionists doling out this abortion cocktail are supposed to have the "ability to diagnose ectopic pregnancies." It seems that many don't have this ability or aren't very good at it.

These reports (on page 6 and 7) indicate that abortionists missed at least 2 ectopic pregnancies.

Why is this? Although the FDA says abortionists should have the "ability to diagnose ectopic pregnancies," this clause isn't enforced because abortionists don't need to be certified in ultrasound dating of pregnancy and detection of ectopic pregnancy. Prolife lawmakers David Vitter and Tim Hutchinson introduced legislation in 2001 to codify the original FDA requirements that were abandoned.

This piece from the Alan Guttmacher Institute informs us (on page 2) that "the FDA made the determination that requiring certification in ultrasound dating and ectopic pregnancy is not required to administer mifepristone safely."

Maybe the FDA should tell that to the women who had ectopic pregnancies that their abortionist missed.

Another interesting report (page 6 of 8) discusses a woman whose RU-486 abortion failed (the child survived) and then she called to say that she was "happy" about the pregnancy. Hallelujah!

Do All Women See Their Abortion as a Choice?

At 10:04 a.m. yesterday, Jam says:

I just wanted to thank everyone for their support. Well, it's over. I went to the Planned Parenthood and had a surgical abortion with IV sedation. I found out I was 6 weeks pregnant, which meant I had actually been pregnant when I had my last period.
The day itself was a day I would rather forget. I was completely in shock of the number of women getting abortions and the number of women who had had multiple abortions and were back for another. It was a rather eye-opening day for me. But, that is a completely different topic.
I was completely fine afterwards ( a little dazed for a bit because I was sedated), pretty much no cramps and very little bleeding. My boyfriend was very sweet and took care of me all weekend. I was def. very emotional the day after, but I am now okay. I have this sense of relief right now. I guess that's good. I wish that I didn't have to do what I did, but there was no other choice for me at this time.
(emphasis mine)

Choice is the prevalent theme of the pro-choice movement but more and more it seems that women who have abortions are saying that they had no choice.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Do Homosexuals have Unequal Rights?

Joe Carter has garnered quite a few comments regarding his post on homosexual and polygamous marriages. I love reading thru the comments and seeing how he responds to those that disagree with him.

Joe notes to one commenter (BCB), "No, homosexuals are allowed to marry also. What they are unable to do is marry someone of the same sex. In that respect they are no different than polygamists."

Commenter BCB responds at 4:13 p.m. on February 6th by saying, "This is exactly the argument that I expected to hear. The way it seems to work is that homosexuals have the exact same right to marry as do heterosexuals, but they just choose not to exercise it because of their sexual preference.

Here's a thought experiment. Suppose that in response to a push for ending the notion of separate but equal that allowed racial school segregation to flourish, opponents pointed to the existence of a little white pill that when taken would turn black kids into white kids. Thus, black kids have a right to go to the same schools as whites, but they just choose not to use it because they won't take the little white pill. Using this logic, you would have to reject cases like Brown and segregation would still prevail (something I suspect that you all would rather like in your heart of hearts--however black they may be)."

BCB has taken the time to actually answer Joe's factual assertion with a thought experiment so let's examine the two situations and see if BCB's thought experiment works.

Person- A heterosexual male
Right - To marry a single, consenting, of consenting age female who is not closely related

Person - A homosexual male
Right - To marry a single, consenting, of consenting age female who is not closely related

(Different sexual preferences but the exact same right)

Person - A white student
Right - To attend an all-white school

Person - A black student
Right - To attend an all-black school

(Different races and different rights)

BCB's thought experiment fails because the students in the era of segregation didn't have the same rights while homosexuals have the exact same rights that heterosexuals do. In the thought experiment, the black student would have to change (become white) to get the same rights (to attend an all-white school) as the white student while the homosexual man doesn't need to change to get the same right as the heterosexual man. He already has the same right and doesn't need to change to exercise that right. The homosexual man doesn't like the right he has as much as the heterosexual male does (understandably so) but that doesn't mean that those rights aren't exactly the same. The homosexual man is asking for a new right - the right to marry someone of the same sex, a right that no one has.

Here's another thought experiment - say Bob and George both live in Michigan. The Michigan legislature passes a law saying that men who reside in Michigan are only allowed to marry women who were born in Michigan (to keep those pesky girls from Ohio from stealing good Michigan men). This works great for Bob whose fiance was born in Detroit but George is gravely upset because his fiance is from Toledo.

Does George have less rights than Bob? No. He has the exact same rights but he doesn't like those rights as much (understandably so) as Bob does but how George likes his rights doesn't change the fact that the rights are exactly the same.

More Pro-Choice Arguments that Need Refuting

Elena at My Domestic Church was kind enough to point me in the direction of this post at Third Wave Agenda regarding an old article in Reason and a post by Ampersand at Alas, a Blog. I've posted some comments at the Third Wave Agenda.

I wonder why Ronald Bailey at Reason is discussing human embryos again after Robert George and Patrick Lee took him behind the woodshed a couple of times 3 years ago and then did it again about a year and a half ago.

His line of reasoning this time is regarding the high percentage of embryos that fail to implant on their mother's uterine wall. He seems to argue that because prolifers don't spend time advocating to save these embryos (which he calls viable even though the same source he quotes says that these embryos have lethal chromosomal abnormalities) that therefore these embryos aren't persons. He even goes on to add this thought experiment:

A fire breaks out in a fertility clinic and you have a choice: You can save a three-year-old child or a Petri dish containing 10 seven-day old embryos. Which do you choose to rescue?

I posted my own scenario in the comments of Third Wave's blog.

Terrorists have kidnapped you and your spouse. They bring you into a room with a television screen where they have a live feed of other terrorists in India who are pointing guns at the heads of ten innocent people. The terrorists tell you that you have to choose who will die - your spouse or the 10 people from India. What do you choose? If you choose to save your spouse, does that somehow mean that the people from India weren't really "persons" or worthy of legal protection because you have a greater emotional attachment to your spouse?

How we feel about the embryos doesn't change what they are. Many people mourn the loss of pets more than they mourn the loss of thousands of human beings that die in foreign countries. Does this mean that cats are "people" while the thousands of foreigner aren't?

Bailey then goes to assert, Should we halt current human embryonic stem-cell research while these possible new avenues of research are being explored? Absolutely not. That would be surrendering to the moral bullying of a minority that wants to halt promising medical research that could cure millions on theological grounds that many of their fellow citizens do not share.

This is strange because when George and Lee gave him a whopping they never mentioned God or their religious beliefs - they proved that Bailey was wrong on logical and scientific grounds. I guess if you can't prove your opponents wrong you must sink to the level of asserting that what they believe is based on theological grounds.

Moral bullying? Morality! Oh no! We can't have that!

Monday, February 07, 2005

A Choice Conversation

Dory at Wittenberg Gate has a great post featuring a hypothetical conversation between a prolife man and a pro-choice woman.

Unfortunately conversations like this seem to hardly ever occur.

Assault with a "Deadly" Weapon

The weapon: An Egg McMuffin

Friday, February 04, 2005

Super Bowl Prediction

After holding the league's best offense to 3 points and then scoring 41 points on arguably the league's best defense, I've got to go with the Patriots by a score of 34 to 24.

Sad story

How can things like this happen?

Female pagan teacher's relationship with female student

Remember how much buzz the story about Mary Kay Letourneau received. Has anyone seen any buzz on this story about a female teacher who has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old female student. It even includes a pagan "marriage." Looking up the teacher's name on Yahoo does provide a few stories but it seems that this story has stayed mostly in West Michigan.

Will it ever get national headlines or a time slot on the Today Show?

Abortion arguments and a response

Richard at Philosophy, etc. has provided a post that contains a slew of bad pro-choice arguments for why abortion should be legal based on philosophy so I thought I'd respond.

His comments will be in blue.

Secondly, the question of whether abortion should be illegal is a separate matter from whether it is immoral. Some conservatives have fundamentally misunderstood the relation between law and morality - they do not recognise that sometimes immoral things should nevertheless be legal. But it should be obvious that this is sometimes true - consider lying, breaking promises, adultery, or (to a Christian) worshipping false idols. So the only question is whether abortion, too, is such a case. I think it is. Outlawing abortion would not stop it from occuring. It would merely drive the practice 'underground', making it far more dangerous. To outlaw abortion would put women's lives at risk. Even those with moral qualms about abortion should not be willing to pay the hefty social costs of such legislation (or, at the very least, it should give them pause).

Richard feels that abortion is immoral but that it shouldn't be illegal in the same way that lying, breaking promises etc. are immoral but not illegal. The question I would pose to Richard is "why is abortion immoral?" If abortion is immoral because it intentionally takes the lives of innocent human beings, shouldn't it be illegal? Are there other times when the intentional taking of innocent human lives should be legal?

Second, his defense of his reasoning doesn't match up with his reasoning. The immoral things that aren't illegal that he lists are acts that don't physically injury another human being. Abortion does.

Third, the question of whether an act will still happen even if it is illegal is no reason to keep something legal. For example, rape occurs every single day. Outlawing rape hasn't stopped it from occuring. Does that mean that rape should be legal? If rape was legal wouldn't it occur in "safer" places under "safer" circumstances? Another example - robbery - should we make picketpocketing legal so criminals won't be forced into attempting dangerous armed robberies? Of course, not. That position assumes that robbery is a good thing that should be legal in the same way that Richard's argument assumes that abortion is something that should remain legal. He is assuming what he is trying to prove.

More controversially, I think the reasonable person should agree that conception is not a metaphysically magical moment. The idea that 'life begins at conception' is contradicted by biology (a point powerfully made by Prof. Lord Robert Winston in a lecture I heard last year - I only wish I could remember it better). Scientists have created healthy mice that were never 'conceived' as such - the egg was artificially stimulated into replication and growth despite not being fertilized (I don't recall the exact details - possibly two of the mother's eggs were fused together to get the chromosome count right). And what to say of identical twins? Two persons formed from a single zygote - you do the math.

Who said anything about magic? Sounds like poisoning the well. Since Serge has spent ample time and energy refuting this argument here, I'll refrain myself and provide his illustrative work.

Perhaps most telling of all is the sheer fact that "between 60 and 80 percent of all naturally conceived embryos are simply flushed out in women's normal menstrual flows unnoticed". How does the proponent of life-at-conception deal with such a fact? Or, as Jason asks, "Why aren't they doing something about the 60-80% of all innocent human lives that nature spontaneously terminates? This stuff makes the tsunami look like nothing at all."

For one, Richard fails to mention that the same site where his information comes from also says, "It is estimated by multiple sources and authors and has been for decades that at the very beginning of life, of human development, of conception, about 50 percent of all potential human beings have a chromosome abnormality, mostly a lethal chromosome abnormality. Chromosome abnormalities are the commonest cause of death in humans. They kill at the very minimum two-thirds of potential humans, more likely 80 to 90 percent and they mostly do so through these lethal aneuploidies."

These embryos/zygotes die because they have lethal chromosome abnormalities, not because they were intentionally killed. It's very difficult/impossible to do something about lethal chromosome abnormalities in zygote/early embryos. The vast majority of abortions intentionally kill innocent human beings that would develop into healthy infants, toddlers, adolescents, etc.

Proponents of life deal with these facts because we recognize that because large percentages of human beings die naturally that doesn't logically lead one to the conclusion that it should be legal to intentionally kill human beings at the same or later stages of development. If I'm in a developing nation where large percentages of infants die relatively soon after birth, does that give me the right to intentionally kill infants?

Single-celled zygotes are not persons, nor are they somehow "morally equivalent" to persons in any sense that entails a 'right to life'. To suggest otherwise would seem to entail that we have a moral duty to constantly monitor all sexually-active women, to save those "human lives" that would otherwise get flushed away without anyone ever knowing. But we have no such duty, and any suggestion to the contrary is absurd. Menstruation is not manslaughter. Those cells are no more 'persons' than are the cells in my fingernail clippings.

His first sentence is a complete assertion that has no basis in fact or reasoning. He doesn't even arbitrarily define "personhood" for us. Nor does he tells us why they're not "morally equivalent."

How would we "save" the lives of week-old embryos with lethal chromosome abnormalities that haven't attached to their mother's uterine wall when we don't have the medical technology to save most children born at 22 weeks? His example is simply ridiculous. No one is saying that menstruation is manslaughter. This is a strawman argument.

He then goes on to confuse parts and wholes. His fingernail clippings are part of a larger human organism, Richard - philosophy student - they aren't guiding their own development- while an unborn child is a whole human being guiding its development.

These examples are also attempts to focus on the zygote/early embryo. He's defending abortion which intentionally kills older embryos/fetuses who have legs, arms, heartbeats, etc. but yet he's describing the unborn as "cells." Proponents of legal abortion can't defend killing 8-24 week-old fetuses so they spend time attacking zygotes, an entity which is never aborted.

Pharyngula offers some helpful diagrams to illustrate this point, and comments:
Figure 1. These are children. Figure 2. These are embryos. I can tell the difference between 1 and 2. Why can’t you?
When you tell me you think an embryo is the same as my kids, you cheapen the worth of my children. They are much, much more than that small thoughtless blob. You reduce the value of family to mindless chemistry and metabolism.

Imagine the pictures.
Figure 1. This is me - a 6'1, 170 man
Figure 2. This is my niece - a month and half old baby who weighs around 10 pounds.
I can tell the difference between 1 and 2. Why can't you?

It is true that Pharyngula's children are more developed mentally and physically than an unborn child but I am more developed than my niece or his children. Does saying that his children, my niece, and myself have the same right to life cheapen the my worth or reduce my value? Of course not. Since when do we grant the right to live based on mental or physical development or on how a human being looks? Should I have a greater right to life than his children and my niece because I'm larger and more developed?

I also find it interesting that he posts pictures of day-old embryos and not an 9 week old fetus or a 20 week old fetus - then the difference between his born children and unborn children might appear less drastic.

Richard then goes on to quote David Velleman from the Left2Right blog.

Lastly, there is everything David Velleman says, from which I'll quote a few key points:
When we ask whether the fetus has a right to life, we make it sound as if there is a single thing, life, to which some beings have a right and others do not, or to which some beings have a stronger right than others. Yet what gives persons a stronger right to life than penguins, and penguins a stronger right to life than petunias, is precisely that these beings live very different kinds of life: the life of a person is a different process from the life of a penguin or a petunia. The reason why different creatures have different rights to life is that some kinds of life-process require stronger justification to end than others and result in greater wrongs when ended without justification So there is no one thing, life, to which different creatures have different rights; rather, there are different kinds of life, with different entitlements to continue.
The belief that a human conceptus is not yet a person in the early stages of gestation rests on the fact that it is not yet capable of the beginnings that make a person's life wrong to end. It is incapable of those beginnings because it does not yet have any mental life.

Here are some of the relevant developmental milestones.1 Synapses do not begin to form in the cerebral cortex until the 12th week after conception, and neurons continue migrating into the cortex until the 20th week, which is the first point at which electroencephalographic activity appears. The fetus's EEG doesn't coalesce into "waves" until in week 26, or develop the patterns characteristic of waking and sleeping until week 30. Synapses begin to connect the spine to the thalamus in the 20th week and reach the cerebral cortex between weeks 24 and 26; not until the 29th week do peripheral stimuli evoke measurable potentials in the cortex, indicating the completion of functional sensory pathways.

Most importantly, Velleman fails to note that human fetuses and born human beings are the same kind of creature. A human fetus isn't a penguin or a petunia - she is human being. Different creatures do have different kinds of rights but human creatures should all have the right to life. His whole notion is based on the incorrect opinion that certain kinds of human beings are different types of creatures.

He then goes on to assert an arbitrary meaning of "personhood" and provides no reason why anyone should accept his reasoning over the reasoning of someone who says that "African-Americans are persons because they have a darker shade of skin."

Do newborn infants have a "mental life?" Not as far as I can tell. What are they thinking about? Do they have conscience memories? Nope. Are they self-aware? Nope. My cats have a greater mental life than newborn infants - does that mean they should have a greater right to life.

Velleman, why are your "milestones" any more "relevant" than other arbitrary "milestones?" For example, being able to talk or walk or think at high levels. Why do neural connections and synapses (something we don't control) matter compared to my "milestones?"

Richard then goes on to state that he's not even sure if infants are "persons." Which shows us exactly down what kind of road this arbitrary defining of "personhood" takes us.

I apologize for the ridiculous length of this post.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Questions I like to ask moral relativists

If all morals are relative then is rape morally wrong?

If a rapist's morals told him that raping women was a moral good, would he be acting immorally if he didn't rape?

Would his actions of raping women then actually be morally good?

If all morals are relative then is bombing abortion clinics morally wrong?

If an abortion clinic bomber's morals told him that bombing abortion clinics women was a moral good, would he be acting immorally if he didn't bomb abortion clinics?

Would his actions of bombing abortion clinics then actually be morally good?

If you were on a desert island with Andre Agassi and he stole and ate all your meager rations of food even though he had more food than you, would you think his actions were morally wrong?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Another adult stem cell success

New adult stem cells found in bone marrow are "capable of forming three different cell types and of self-renewal."

"These studies show that stem cells from adult bone marrow are a virtual tool kit for repairing damaged hearts," senior investigator Dr. Douglas W. Losordo told Reuters Health. "Specifically, these cells can differentiate into all of the essential cellular elements required to restore function in 'broken' hearts."

Hat tip: Blogicus

Euthanasia - Vox Apologia

I somehow missed the Vox Apologia on Euthanasia but I came across it when attempting to meet my neighbors on the Evangelical Blogroll.

Sonspot offers up this great post regarding euthanasia and provides the needed perspective of someone who cares for the elderly and is against assisted suicide.

The entry by RazorsKiss is also quite worthy of linkage.

The thing that I always find interesting about the pro-assisted suicide movement is their focus on the "choice" of patient when in reality it would always be the doctor's choice if the patient lived or died. The doctor is the one who would decide if the patient is competent enough to make a decision regarding their death. The doctor would decide if the patient just might be depressed or if they might need a second opinion. The doctor is the one who would choose if he or she feels comfortable prescribing drugs to bring about the death of the patient. The doctor is the one who would decide if the family is trying to encourage the patient to end their life.

Columnist Sheryl McCarthy vs. Reality

I just came across one of Sheryl McCarthy's recent columns and it makes me so glad that I spend time reading blogs by people who don't get paid instead of reading the garbage spewed forth by overpaid columnists who are either too lazy to do any research or just like to lie.

She claims that Dobson is upset about the video featuring cartoon stars and the We Are Family website because the video "shows SpongeBob SquarePants holding hands with his pal, a starfish."

McCarthy then continues by saying, "Attacking a beloved cartoon character shows just how crazy religious conservatives can be. They're especially obsessed with sexual matters, such as reproductive issues and homosexuality."

Did Dobson attack SpongeBob? Has McCarthy actually read any of Dobson's statements? Or is she just erecting a heinously poor strawman argument?

As far as I've seen Serge at Imago Dei has been covering this issue better than anyone with posts here and here.

If you take the time to actually read what Dobson has said you'll realize that McCarthy either has no clue what she is talking about or would rather lie than actually confront a reasoned argument.

Feel free to e-mail Ms. McCarthy at to help her get her facts straight.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

How Pro-Choicers Argue: Part Eight

Intro, Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven

Ripping Off the Violinist

Some pro-choicers who realize that abortion does kill a human being and are unable to convince prolifers that the unborn are living human beings but not persons will then move on to saying that even if the unborn are persons, they aren't entitled to reside in their mother's body. They feel that women shouldn't be forced to carry an unwanted child, even if that child is a person. The unborn child is now viewed as a kind of trespasser who is infringing on the rights of the woman. This argument is best known in Judith Jarvis Thomson's argument: A Defense of Abortion. (A section of the argument below)

But now let me ask you to imagine this. You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. The director of the hospital now tells you, "Look, we're sorry the Society of Music Lovers did this to you--we would never have permitted it if we had known. But still, they did it, and the violinist is now plugged into you. To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it's only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you." Is it morally incumbent on you to accede to this situation? No doubt it would be very nice of you if you did, a great kindness. But do you have to accede to it? What if it were not nine months, but nine years? Or longer still? What if the director of the hospital says. "Tough luck. I agree. but now you've got to stay in bed, with the violinist plugged into you, for the rest of your life. Because remember this. All persons have a right to life, and violinists are persons. Granted you have a right to decide what happens in and to your body, but a person's right to life outweighs your right to decide what happens in and to your body. So you cannot ever be unplugged from him." I imagine you would regard this as outrageous, which suggests that something really is wrong with that plausible-sounding argument I mentioned a moment ago.

Greg Koukl and Francis Beckwith have done better jobs than I could ever dream of to refute this argument but I thought I'd throw my 2 cents in.

When arguing with pro-choicers who take this position I usually try to point out that pregnancy and Thomson's violinist the example aren't parallel. First, if we take the position that the unborn are persons then you have to replace the violinist with the woman's son in the example. Second, you have to recognize that abortion is more than detaching the unborn from the mother but an overt act of killing so the woman would have to kill her own child or have someone else kill her child before unplugging him.

Then go on to supply your own parallel example - A woman is snowmobiling in a remote area when she spots what appears to be a young child who is clothed in rags shivering. She realizes that this child has no chance at survival by himself since he is too young to walk to any area where there would be help and there is no one else around to help him. He will die in the near future if the woman doesn't help me. As the snowmobiling woman approaches the child she realizes that the child is her own son. Does this woman have the right to kill her child in these circumstances? If not, why not? Does this woman have the right to merely abandon her child in these circumstances? If not, why not?

The funny thing that I've come across is that pro-choicers faced with this example and others like it will revert back to the argument that the unborn and the shivering child in rags are different because the unborn aren't persons/human beings even though they quote the Thomson argument which allows the position that the unborn are persons.

Hardly any pro-choicer actually holds the position that the unborn are "persons" but it should be legal to kill them anyways. Even Thomson didn't believe the unborn were persons. Pro-choicers will use this argument because they can't prove that the unborn aren't persons or human beings.