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« Converging over lunch | Main | Now, gods, stand up for bastards! »

Sep 06, 2008


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Most conservatives and liberals can agree that an abortion is not a preferred alternative. Yet, evangelical conservatives like Palin seem to think that the most effective way of preventing abortions -- contraception -- is immoral. Yes, they argue in favor of abstinence. But, human history provides the evidence that relying on abstinence to eliminate unwanted pregnancies is an exercise in futility. The only thing left to think is that evangelicals advocating an abstinence-only approach are more concerned about acquiring political power than they are about reducing abortions. After all, they are advocating something that will not work unless they legislate criminal penalties for sex outside marriage.

Is there any evidence that reversing Roe v. Wade would result in fewer abortions unless we started arresting pregnant women?

The threat that lurks in the campaign to reverse Roe v. Wade is more fundamental than it's attack on the freedom of women. It's a threat that those who value their own religious faith more than their adherence to the Constitution would see a Roe reversal as a green light to impose on all Americans the restrictive politics of their faith. If someone believes God requires him to restrict the freedom of women, what is there to stop him from deciding that God requires him to shut down theaters presenting plays he does not approve, or outlaw attendance at churches advocating positions he does not approve, or to legalize religious tests for qualifications for employment or education?

Access to power by people who are willing to subvert the Constitution to advance the political agenda of their own faith is a far, far greater threat to American than abortion.


"Yet, evangelical conservatives like Palin seem to think that the most effective way of preventing abortions -- contraception -- is immoral."

Where has Palin expressed disapproval of contraception? She didn't.

In fact, she is in favor of contraception. From the Alaska Daily News:

"Palin said last month that no woman should have to choose between her career, education and her child. She is pro-contraception and said she's a member of a pro-woman but anti-abortion group called Feminists for Life."

As for decreasing abortions, a comprehensive approach, including some criminal sanction is fine with me. The quote posted by Ed poses it as all or nothing. I have yet to hear one good argument against criminalization.

John Burns

She can't be in Feminists for Life and claim to be pro-contraception.

Sorry. That dog won't hunt.


>>" I have yet to hear one good argument against criminalization."

Shouldn't the burden of the argument be on those who want to arrest women? You're setting out to arrest women and challenging the rest of us to counter that position. That seems very backwards to me.

Just why do you want to imprison women?

Do you also want to arrest men who have had vasectomies?


" I have yet to hear one good argument against criminalization." -- Spag

Because those who entertain the idea of criminalization, you included, stop short of offering an honest definition of the term. Those in favor of criminalization will hear (or make their own) argument against criminalization when they offer up an honest completion of that proposal by saying what the crime and punishment would be.

David Boyd

Regarding the dog that won't hunt,

What is Feminists for Life's position on contraception?

Feminists for Life's mission is to address the unmet needs of women who are pregnant or parenting. Preconception issues including abstinence and contraception are outside of our mission. Some FFL members and supporters support the use of non-abortifacient contraception while others oppose contraception for a variety of reasons. FFL is concerned that certain forms of contraception have had adverse health effects on women.

Our membership enjoys a broad spectrum of opinion that reflects the diversity of opinions among the American public.


Did I say anything about arresting women?

We just had this discussion two weeks ago, and I think an appropriate sanction somewhere between a traffic ticket and capital murder can be found. I think abortion is somewhat more undesirable than speeding.

Roch, criminalization is supposed to deter behavior. You won't even concede that. Before a proposal could be made, there must be an admission that the behavior is something that is worthy of deterrence. You won't even give me a speeding ticket.

No more questions please, because I am not having this debate again.


Criminalization certainly includes the power to arrest. Short of arresting women, I doubt a Roe reversal would see any significant reduction in abortions.

But, as I said, the primary danger from a Roe reversal would be its encouragement of the fundamentalist right to seek aditional restrictions on our freedoms in the name of their faith.

Perhaps if we woke up tomorrow with a population of 40 million fundamentalist Muslims (the modifier is important) who wanted to ban alcohol and force gender segregation in the public schools some on the right might get it.


Criminalizing abortion would place the issue into the hands of the same institution which nationalized law and gives us the post office, DOT and Homeland Security. If a fetus deserves a fighting chance you must remove randomness, the Cosmic Abortionist and fiat political law from the list of obstructions. The desire to punish or incarcerate someone with ideas different than your own is a popular theme since common law has been abandoned and Natural Law almost forgotten. Political law can arbitrarily declare one life form precious and fail to protect or even put a bounty on the living tissue of political victims. Palin's god of war is such a character, seeking to protect the unborn while sanctioning the suffering and extermination of an individual or a group which opposes the occupation of her policy enforcers. The lack of a moral model in political law enables this conflict. Paine wrote that "man cannot create principles, he can only discover them." When an astronomer contemplates the heavens, a doctor contemplates the human body or a lawyer is first exposed to common law, they know they are in the in the presence of something profound. Political law doesnt arouse that sense of awe and cause the researcher to examine what he has come in contact with.

Ed Cone

My guess is that criminal penalties for abortion would be aimed more at doctors than women.

Sam, saying the penalty should be somewhere between a traffic ticket and a murder rap is unhelpful.

So is declaring the subject off-limits until we all agree that criminal deterrence is a worthy goal.

The fact is, not everyone agrees to that proposition; hence this discussion.

You do believe in criminal deterrence. There is interest in your ideas on that subject. Please tell us what it is that you advocate.


"I think an appropriate sanction somewhere between a traffic ticket and capital murder can be found." -- Spag

And you want your proposal of criminalization to be taken seriously?


Criminalization is definitely the wrong word, and I'm not so sure about deter, either. My objective would be to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, thus reducing the number of abortions. I'm not convinced that anti-abortionists are invested in reducing unwanted pregnancies. Religiously-tinged advocacy of abstinence-only and opposition to contraception will simply create more unwanted pregnancies.


There is good reason to have this debate. Legal scholars toiled away so that women and blacks, who were property or slaves, now have the same right to life as white men. They are persons which require a definition under law. So do they now have the right to life? Of course. If an abortion is performed at 35 weeks most would call this premeditated murder. What about at one week? Few funerals are held for miscarriages in the first and second month. In Germany the killing of any innocent was murder. Political leaders were given the power to change the law and judges concurred. Exceptions began to creep in. Mentally incompetents were the first victims. Then more undesirables were added to the list until the manifest contained millions of victims. The executioners were only doing what was legal and following orders. When the right to life is given by political hacks and the majority, 14 centuries of logic will be swept away by political law. The right of anyone's life can be taken away by voters if they change their minds. The current system rests on the same foundation if the decision of who you can legally murder is decided by political means. The current holocaust of the unborn puts every citizen at the edge of a slippery slope. But when the system allows murder by so many other means, there is not much to hold on to.


We already had this discussion Ed, and I am not going to get into it again. I'm not saying it is off limits, just that I am not going to participate.

Ed Cone

Sam, I don't recall you articulating a proposed penalty for women or doctors if abortion is criminalized -- only the meaningless traffic ticket to murder continuum.

My memory is far from perfect. All I'm asking is that you state your proposed penalty, and the people to whom it would apply. If you stated that already, just show the link. Thnx.

You say abortion should be against the law. What, exactly, should the penalty be?


How about the law that already exists, N.C.G.S. 14-45?

Now talk amongst yourselves.


...and 14-44.

cara michele

Re: Sam's comment -- from North Carolina General Statutes:

§ 14‑44. Using drugs or instruments to destroy unborn child.

If any person shall willfully administer to any woman, either pregnant or quick with child, or prescribe for any such woman, or advise or procure any such woman to take any medicine, drug or other substance whatever, or shall use or employ any instrument or other means with intent thereby to destroy such child, he shall be punished as a Class H felon. (1881, c. 351, s. 1; Code, s. 975; Rev., s. 3618; C.S., s. 4226; 1967, c. 367, s. 1; 1979, c. 760, s. 5; 1979, 2nd Sess., c. 1316, s. 47; 1981, c. 63, s. 1; c 179, s. 14.)

§ 14‑45. Using drugs or instruments to produce miscarriage or injure pregnant woman.

If any person shall administer to any pregnant woman, or prescribe for any such woman, or advise and procure such woman to take any medicine, drug or anything whatsoever, with intent thereby to procure the miscarriage of such woman, or to injure or destroy such woman, or shall use any instrument or application for any of the above purposes, he shall be punished as a Class I felon. (1881, c. 351, s. 2; Code, s. 976; Rev., s. 3619; C.S., s. 4227; 1979, c. 760, s. 5; 1979, 2nd Sess., c. 1316, s. 47; 1981, c. 63, s. 1; c. 179, s. 14.)

cara michele

FYI, the presumptive punishment for a Class H felony is imprisonment for three years; Class I is two years. The Courts also takes into account prior felony convictions, as well as aggravating and mitigating factors.

Ed Cone

Okay, we're making some progress.

Sam advocates imprisoning doctors for 2-3 years for performing abortions.

I oppose such penalties. Here's one reason.

Back to Steve's post: ""I simply do not believe that criminalizing abortion is the best way to reduce the number of abortions in this country."


Law is the last resort in a civilized society. More laws leads to more corruption. In the US today law has become the first resort. To think a fetus would be safe just because there's a law is a catechism of statism. The new and improved cult is government and worshippers perform the ritual of legislation. The cultists believe any problem can be solved if the right legislation is performed. This is the new disconnect from reality. Legislators are the new priests and halls of government are the new sanctuaries. A fetus wont be any safer with a new law anymore than a citizen will be safer by making investment scams illegal. The US has 5% of the world's population but over 65% of the lawyers. This new religion has not made the US any safer or more respected. In fact, it may be working the other way. The protection of the innocent simply isn't a priority anymore. The legislators will tell you when it is. "It is essential to the idea of a law that it be attended with a sanction; or in other words, a penalty or punishment for disobedience. If there be no penalty annexed to disobedience, the resolutions or commands which pretend to be laws will, in fact, amount to nothing more than advice or reccommendation."~Alexanader Hamilton..There is little moral authority remaining in this country to offer advice.

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