Is America ready for an honest conversation about abortion yet?

In this season’s eighth episode, Boston Legal – the relentlessly liberal ABC dramedy starring William Shatner and James Spader – lobbed an absolute bomb at those of us on the pro-choice side of the Roe v. Wade question. The bunker-buster was posed, predictably enough, by Crane Poole & Schmitt’s resident conservative, the gleefully Republican Denny Crane, portrayed by Shatner. BL fans know Crane to be positively Cheney-esque in his politics (although he did finally cross the aisle to vote for Obama because even he couldn’t stomach four more years like the last eight), and he routinely plays the straw man for the passionate liberalism of Spader’s litigator par excellence, Alan Shore.

This time, though, Crane (who’s battling through the early stages of Alzheimer’s) breaks through to a moment of pristine, Emmy-worthy clarity. In a brilliantly crafted scene, he explains to Shore that

You pro-choice people, you need Roe vs. Wade. You’re desperate for it. Not because you’re sure of your opinion, but because you’re not. You need to cling to that ruling as moral validation for a position you’re not entirely comfortable with, deep down.

Denny Crane, indeed.

There’s more than a grain of truth in Crane’s accusation. Pro-lifers have the luxury of absolute moral certainty, you see. Life begins at conception, they insist, and therefore abortion is murder. Period. And life is the most sacred thing on Earth. Is this formulation without its problems? Of course not – it’s about as inane as are all incredibly simple answers to incredibly complex questions. But it is simple, and if you’ve ever been to a pro-life rally you understand that this crowd is not inherently drawn to complexities.

Pro-choicers? Well, the pro-choice side of the argument is a tad more complicated because it’s not really about abortion at all. Let’s be clear on something: pro-choice does not equal pro-abortion. I have never in my life met a single human being who was pro-abortion. Not one. Such a person may exist – we’re a nation of over 300 million people, after all, so somewhere out there a freak-fringe analogue to Fred Phelps may be running loose. But so far I haven’t met this person. (My fellow Scrogue, Dr. Wendy Redal, advises me that Warren Hern of the Boulder Abortion Clinic may come close to fitting that bill, at least in the eyes of some.)

So while the two camps disagree violently on what the law should be, they have one very important thing in common: pro-lifers and all pro-choicers hate abortion. Just about all of them. The problem is that the pro-choice camp is forced to confront complexity. While abortion is bad, how do we legislate against individual freedoms? More to the point, whom do we trust to so legislate?

This is where the rubber hits the road. The truth that we don’t talk about very often is that a number of folks on the pro-choice side of the street are extremely conflicted. Many, I suspect, are uneasy with the proposition that abortion, in all contexts, should be treated as a simple matter of choice. However, they recognize the pro-life movement for what it is – an insidious theocractic wedge into governance – and they believe it to be worse, on the whole, than abortion.

It’s probably safe to say that a healthy majority of pro-choicers think this way about the anti-abortion crowd. Some of us perhaps know a thoughtful, conscientious pro-life advocate who has arrived at the position without the aid of reactionary theology and who craves a solution that doesn’t trash our individual liberties. But if we do, this person is the rarest minority. In point of fact, nearly 100% of the visible opposition to Roe v. Wade in America emanates from socially conservative evangelical Christianity. I’d probably be overreaching were I to suggest that most of these people would gladly subjugate the Constitution to their ministers’ various interpretations of the Bible (however ill-informed they may be), but by the same token you’d be naive to pretend that there isn’t enough of that very dynamic to concern those of us who think Jefferson meant what he damned well said about the wall between church and state.

Bottom line: there are a lot of pro-choicers in America whose positions have very little, if anything at all, to do with abortion per se. Instead, they “cling to that ruling” because they do not, cannot, will not trust those on the other side of the police line with their liberties. Nor should they. Those who would legislate based on facile, tragically misunderstood, millennia-old mythologies must not, under any circumstances, be emboldened in their quest to legally codify America’s status as a Christian nation – not as they define “Christian.”

What I believe. Sort of.

To this point I have been speaking, perhaps too generally, on behalf of others. So let me talk more directly about what and how I think.

First, do I believe that abortion is wrong? Maybe, but “wrong” is a loaded term. Wrong by whose standards? I believe abortion is usually a very bad thing, because at the bare minimum it exacts a lasting toll on the woman having it. There aren’t any occasions I can think of where an abortion is a cause for celebration. The only times I’d count abortion as “not so bad, on the whole,” are in cases of rape or incest, or where the woman’s life is threatened or where the fetus proves to have some form of birth defect.

Yes, I’m generally okay with abortion in the case of certain kinds of physical and mental defects. Each day children are born under circumstances guaranteeing that their lives will be miserable. I find that abhorrent. Life is a remarkable thing, but a life of torture is worse than death. Mercy, and an enlightened sense of responsibility toward those doomed to suffering, this is a higher value, I believe.

I certainly do not believe that abortion is a sin, though, primarily because I reject the foundations from which the current use of the word “sin” arises. By now I hope I’m clear on this subject: your religion and your conscience are yours, but you have no right whatsoever to export your religious beliefs onto others. If you have reasoned yourself to a pro-life moral position, I respect that and we can talk about it in good faith. If you believe it because somebody told you that’s what Jesus thinks, we have nothing to talk about, and you absolutely should not be allowed anywhere near a policy-making apparatus.

Do I believe that life begins at conception? No. At least, not in any way that’s relevant or actionable from a policy perspective. Depending on how you define things, life may begin before conception – I mean, eggs and sperm are alive, right? Is this really a road we want our various legislatures wandering down?

What I’m a lot more concerned about is viability – at what point is the fetus capable of living outside the womb? Do I have a problem forbidding the aborting of a viable fetus? Well, unless we’re talking about one of the instances I note above, maybe not. But these kinds of procedures are far more rare than most pro-lifers would have you believe.

In any case, I’m not a scientist, nor am I a physician. I’m willing to take guidance on this question from those who are experts in the study of physiology and medicine. And yes, I do think it’s possible to have this conversation productively and in good faith.

So, I do believe we should get rid of abortion, then? Well, I think we’d all be better off if there were so few abortions that the subject pretty much never came up, and that when there was an abortion the circumstances surrounding it were wholly uncontroversial. But overturning Roe v. Wade would no more accomplish this than the volumes of statutes currently on the books are preventing murders, robberies, rapes, child abuse and jaywalking.

So How Do We Get Rid of Abortions, Then?

We Americans have a bad habit of addressing the symptoms instead of curing the disease. Unfortunately, you’re never going to treat a sucking chest wound with a band-aid.

The first steps to eliminating abortion in America – assuming that’s really what you’re after – require us to address the actual causes: poverty and sub-standard education. Levitt and Dubner do a nice job of examining the socio-economic conditions surrounding abortion in Freakonomics, and let’s simply note here that if abortion is a scourge in the United States, it’s not the educated and well-off neighborhoods that are bearing the brunt of the damage. To be sure, privileged girls from the best schools in the lily-whitest gated communities in America’s most respected and white-flightest suburban enclaves do get themselves into the family way on occasion, but there are few more effective prophylactics, if you will, against unwanted pregnancy than the family and communal stability engendered by top-notch education and a clear sense of opportunity in life.

Unfortunately, we’re coming off what may prove to be the eight dumbest years of governance in our history. The decade of the 2000s will not be remembered for advancing learning in our society, and it’s hard to find a better example of educational malfeasance than “abstinence-only” sex ed. Bush and his social conservative henchmen have pushed the hell out of this particular anti-educational affront to coherent policy-making, and at this stage the only controversy remaining is whether abstinence-only makes no difference or whether it makes things worse.

I expect that, upon his inauguration, we’ll see Barack Obama confronting these issues in his social and economic agendas, although whether his administration will genuinely work toward a level playing field and universal opportunity or if it will simply settle for a few cosmetic nips and tucks around the fugly spots remains to be seen. However, if we get serious about making the most of every mind and turning some of our rhetoric about how all children can grow up to do whatever they set those minds to into actual reality, then we will see dramatic drops in the abortion rate (along with corresponding decreases in all kinds of anti-social and criminal behavior).

And for our pro-life readers: that’s what you really want, right? Right?

The Real Argument

This whole thesis is one I’ve been carrying around for quite some time. It has long been obvious that our nation’s most violently divisive argument wasn’t really about abortion at all, and the basic dishonesty of this, of our collective willing suspension of disbelief, has griped me to no end. To be clear: there is no disagreement in America today, nor has there ever been, about abortion. There is almost nothing that we agree on more unanimously, in fact.

Instead, abortion is the field on which a battle is being waged. It’s as though we’ve confused the turf at the Meadowlands with the game of football. Put another way, the abortion “debate” is about abortion in roughly the same way that the Civil War was about real estate in Manassas, Gettysburg and Chattanooga.

What we call the abortion debate is better understood as a conflict over human rights. More deeply, it is about Modernity vs. Fundamentalism. Are we a nation governed by reason and law, or are we a nation governed by the priesthood? Do we believe that individuals are endowed with certain inalienable rights, or do we trust TV preachers to tell us what rights God wants us to have? Will we insist on a system that adapts and evolves as our society grows and learns, or will we cling desperately to a system that refuses to acknowledge that change even exists?

Put bluntly, will we live in the 21st Century or the 16th?

I’m willing to have debates, so long as they’re conducted intelligently and in good faith. But for too long we’ve been conflating things, tangling ourselves up in rhetorical sucker plays and refusing to acknowledge what’s really on the agenda. That has to change if we’re ever to make any progress toward resolving our fundamental differences in a way that allows us to move forward together.

I’m game, but I wonder how many are with me.

Change We Can Live With

Obama will take office on the promise of “change we can believe in.” He promises that things will be different, that we’ll step past the partisan divisions that have set us at each other’s throats for so long.

So maybe this is the moment. Maybe this is our opportunity to find a way of addressing abortion in a way that is legitimately about abortion – that is, to discuss it in terms of science and the deeper social conditions that underlie it instead of in terms of reactionary, fear-driven theology.

Before this can happen, though, President Obama will need to restore government’s respect for the Constitution, a document that has suffered tremendous abuse in recent years. Governmental research functions will need to be returned to the control of actual researchers and we’ll have to stop pretending that anti-science is actually science. No more fundamentalist litmus tests, no more faux “debates” about facts that are settled, no more obeisance to those who think that Leviticus is a peer-reviewed journal.

Maybe now is the time for this. Or … maybe not – I mean, how hopeful should I be as long as Obama is still taking Rick Warren seriously? (For a wonderfully detailed look at the … ummm, quagmire … facing Obama, see Sarah Posner’s new American Prospect analysis on “The Truth About Abortion Reduction.”)

I believe that when these things are accomplished, we’ll all be surprised at how many people are willing to sit down at the table and honestly discuss their opinions about issues that have heretofore not been open to discussion.

Denny Crane was right: many of us are uneasy about being forced into an absolutist position over something we know to be nuanced and complex. I, for one, hope the time is approaching when intelligent people can begin untangling those complexities in an environment that’s free of suspicion and fear.


  • The Fundamentalism of America is a funny thing because it makes little pretense towards that which it purports to represent. The numerous writings of Christians that could be canonical are unused in favor of focusing on the Old Testament. There is a very good reason why the evangelical community has such an affinity for Israel: in it Christianity has become as messianic Judaism. Christ’s God of love is less important than the Jewish God of Justice (a concept contorted by having to be reconciled with unconditional love).

    And the evangelical churches are quite similar to the Catholic Church (particularly the Church that still used Latin); that is, the word/Truth is accessed via the appointed intermediary rather than through personal experience. You have your little experience and then rely on someone else to explain it and describe what you should do with it. It isn’t spiritual, it’s religious…and so malleable through doctrinal pronouncements (or fatwas if you prefer sprinklings of foreign language to up the intellectual ante).

  • Pro-life to me means much more than anti-abortion. It means anti-death penalty as well. I think both are flawed remedies in most cases, but I’ve especially never understood the reasoning behind saying it’s a sin to kill innocent babies, but not innocent criminals who have been convicted by an imperfect criminal justice system. My first inkling of coming disaster was when George Bush said in his first presidential campaign that he had “full confidence” in the court system of Texas and did not plan to halt executions as was done in a number of states because the new use of DNA technology was proving some on death rows to be innocent. OMG I thought. He’s ignorant AND arrogant, and that’s the most dangerous combination possible! I think absolute moral certainty is the refuge of those who are incapable of, or unwilling to, think at an adult level.

  • To pro-lifers, the debate has nothing to do with a woman’s control over her body or one’s personal beliefs. Pro-choicers don’t understand that pro-lifers are simply trying to stop pro-choicers from breaking the law and murdering a human (or future human).

    As Denny Crane says, pro-choicers can be uneasy with themselves. Ironically, they’d be more at peace if they admitted to themselves (but, God no, not to pro-lifers) that there’s a small element of murder to abortion.

    Honest, carefully considered piece, Dr. S.

  • Sam,

    Here’s something we agree on:)


  • Sadly but predictably, the abortion controversy is being framed by extremists on both sides. Very few who identify as pro-choice support late-term abortions for frivolous reasons. Very few who identify as pro-life would force a pregnant minor to carry a pregnancy to term, especially if the pregnancy were the result of rape or incest.

    Yet, somehow, all of us seem to be compelled to ‘choose sides’ based on one or the other of these extreme positions (which very few people actually believe in).

    That said, IMHO, the real motivation behind the ‘pro-life’ is NOT concern about life per se. (Otherwise, you’d not see so many pro-death penalty people involved in ‘pro-life’, And you’d see more pro-life advocates supporting realistic adoption procedures, expanded pre- and post-natal care, etc.)

    I believe that the real pro-life program is pro-paternalism, the “right” to tell a woman how to be, how to behave (and how to be properly submissive).

  • I think the heart of the issue is the logic of choice.

    If you are coerced by your circumstances (poverty, poor education, rape, incest, etc.) so that you could not fully choose to have or avoid pregnancy, then the moral arguments against abortion greatly lose their weight. I wrote to this point back in the “Just say no” days and the argument still rings true. You can destroy life just as effectively as abortion does by preventing alternatives to pregnancy; it’s just that people are still standing about.

    And, IIRC, there was a recent article on the long term effects of abortion that showed that women who have had abortions have the same effective rates of psychological issues as those who don’t have abortions.

  • What an excellent article. I think you nailed it with the pro-lifers being programmed to see the abortion issue as black & white. As a pro-choice person who sees the issue as incredibly complex I can’t help but wonder why pro-lifers are against all forms of abortion yet are perfectly fine with fertility treatments and the “rhythm method” which are both responsible for “murdering human lives” (under their own definition). It could be argued that these two “pro-life acceptable” embryo killers are responsible for more embryo and blastocyst deaths than the abortions they’re so vocally against.

    The problem with surrendering your moral will to a religious authority is that religious authorities tend to want to do more than just judge behavior once they have power. First comes the judgment and then comes the punishment. If your religious authority derives its morals from the old testament let us remember that in the old testament the ten punishments for violating the ten commandments are death, death, death, death, death, death, death, death, death, and (this one is only for the priests) infertility plus “feces on their faces”.

    “Illogical beliefs cannot be undone by logic.”

  • Three words: The Handmaid’s Tale.

  • Well written.

    It is the vocal extremes on both sides of this (and every major) argument that pollute civil thought and debate. Howard Fineman touched on this a little in his recent book “The 13 American Arguments.” A great read, as well.

  • Your premise of being against abortion b/c it leaves a toll on the woman is just wrong. The lasting feeling can be one of relief!

  • Mary:

    I’m the last guy in the world to speak too broadly on what women feel in this case, especially since there really isn’t a universal reaction. I would only say two things:

    1: I’m not talking completely off the top of my head. I’ve talked to women who have had abortions and am echoing what I have been told.

    2: It’s not an either/or. I would argue that feeling relief and then carrying the doubt and regret around for a very long time is not only possible, it’s incredibly human and likely.

  • The problem, as with 90% things held by the right-wing, is FRAMING..

    Pro-lifers are NOT pro LIFE.. illegal invasions of countries and killing over 1.2 million people, hundreds of thousands of which were innocent women and children (more than Saddam ever killed, at that) and spewing radioactive material all over their country is NOT “pro LIFE”. The death penalty is not pro LIFE.

    And pro-choice people are NOT “pro-abortion”, yet pay attention to what MOST of the “pro-life” types use as language when discussing this issue. They call pro-choice folks “pro-abortion”.

    No, the reality, as noted in the bits of the article I read, is that the words that BETTER fit the implied positions are pro-choice and anti-choice. …. but the right-wing and the christofascits out there know full well that words matter, and that’s how they have been winning hearts and [simple]minds for decades now.

    At the end of the day, we’re talking about something that an individual has to contemplate, do, and live with. And not everyone believes that “all human life is sacred”, nor do we all believe that it’s better to live and suffer than not live. Some of us don’t believe that some invisible sky fairy will make it all “worth it” in the end… so, again, 90% of the argument [against leaving the choice to the individual] is RELIGIOUS, and should not be getting any serious attention from an enlightened society.

    Framing.. you’re either pro-choice or anti-choice. No one is pro-abortion.

  • Dr. Slammy .. re: #11

    I’ve talked to women who’ve had abortions too. And some of them are fine with their decisions and don’t have doubt or regret. You are who you let yourself be with self talk. If you tell yourself you might have made a mistake, then you’ll think you might have made a mistake. If you actively remember your life at the time, and made a sound decision at the time, you’ll never regret or question what you did.

    Again, it boils down to the individual, their circumstances, and their mental fortitude in all things. What I think is the missing bit (and every bit as controversial as the abortion issue) is that a lot of people in this country simply aren’t very smart, nor do they stop to think about things. For _those_ people, I agree with your #2 above (in post 11) for “most people”, but, then, most people aren’t qualified to make most of the decisions they make. They are allowed to make them simply because they exist, not because they are competent.

    You need a license to drive, but any swingin’ dick can make a baby. I guess “new life” isn’t as important as existing life since you have to prove competence to drive, but not make babies..

    Sorry, multiple topics in there…

  • Again, it boils down to the individual, their circumstances, and their mental fortitude in all things.

    Interesting. I don’t consider absolute certainty, about my own decisions or anything else, “mental fortitude” at all. Living with uncertainty, questions and doubt and moving forward anyway seems infinitely stronger to me… in fact, the fortitude you describe sounds dangerously akin to the mindset of religious fundamentalism.

    Or maybe they simply weren’t very smart. Or maybe what you were hearing was the listener-friendly response, the one that stops the questions. Who knows.

  • When you’re living with the person, and it’s something you see and deal with for several years, I think it goes beyond “listener-friendly”.

    And not every decision in life needs to be something you constantly question. You are allowed to make a decision based on logic and reason and what you know at the time, and then NOT abuse yourself forever for making that decision. That’s not even in the same boat, nor same ocean, as those “certain” that their superstitions are real.

    I mostly agree with you, Ann. Moving forward even when you have doubts is something we need to do sometimes in life. But it’s dysfunctional to abuse yourself over decisions you can’t change. If you become crippled in your life over a choice you made and how you just don’t know, you have a mental problem that should be treated.

    Once again, we’re talking about things that have many many many layers and shades of gray, and trying to put simple words to it. You can’t. Not everyone that has an abortion spends the rest of their lives “wondering” (in a context that causes them consternation or problems in their lives), and not all of those that manage to live normal lives after such a decision were simply “not very smart” (seemingly you’re implying you have to be dim to be psychologically healthy).

    Some times people just view the world differently than you and have a different threshold/definition for pain and misery and self loathing. In fact, isn’t that the _entire_ point of “pro-CHOICE”? It’s something for an individual to decide, not the group? It affects the individual, not the group?

  • Essentially a woman’s “right” is moot when the U.S. has millions of illegal aliens taking the place in our society that would have been filled by the innocents who aren’t here now. While our indigenous population decreases, the Muslim world’s increases exponentially. Conflicts are started by competition for resources and population pressure. The Islamization of the West seems more and more possible (and probable) every day. Are you ready for Shariah?

  • But it’s dysfunctional to abuse yourself over decisions you can’t change. If you become crippled in your life over a choice you made and how you just don’t know, you have a mental problem that should be treated.

    This has nothing to do with what I said, and is a perfect example of what I was talking about. There is a substantial difference between pointless agonizing and constructive recognition of the myriad of choices we deny when we accept one. This is also an excellent snapshot of the demonstrable differences between normal male and normal female thinking (about which I’ll be writing more later). We live in a different mental world, Savantster. Not better, just different. Continued consciousness of alternatives is neither pathological nor crippling for us, nor even particularly frightening.

    And however many years you spent with that person, and however much you loved her, and however sensitive and understanding you are, my friend, you got the listener-friendly answer more often than you’ll ever know – and generally to avoid the kind of instinctive, defensive response you’ve just displayed.

  • Oh, and I could have said the exact same thing in listener-friendly girlspeak, and you wouldn’t be having the reaction you’re having right now… but that seems condescending and rather unfair. The more we use our real voices, the better. No matter how uncomfortable it is.

  • Ann said:

    [Y]ou got the listener-friendly answer more often than you’ll ever know – and generally to avoid the kind of instinctive, defensive response you’ve just displayed.

    Well, duh. Doesn’t everyone filter what they say from the instantaneous rude but true thing to the less-inflammatory but no-less true thing? I thought that was being a caring, responsible, empathic, mature person.

  • Brian–there’s filtering what you say and then there’s censoring it. One involves choosing your words carefully to make the truth less painful. The other involves some variation of “No, honey, everything is fine” in order to close the conversation as quickly as possible.

  • I thought that we were talking about choosing your words carefully, not self-censorship. To me the phrase “listener-friendly” implies more the former than the latter, but perhaps that’s just me projecting my own biases on the discussion.

  • Interesting discussion, both the original article and the follow-up comments. Just a couple of my own. If memory serves, Roe v Wade came about because doctors became alarmed at the epidemic (their word) of deaths of women due to back-alley abortions. The doctors came to the conclusion that they had to gain control over the medical procedure of abortion or this epidemic would continue. It was, I guess, a lesser of evils kind of argument. And the Roe v Wade decision was crafted, I suppose, in a similar spirit.
    My second point is that for thousands and thousands of years, when food and water and shelter was severely limited and the very survival of the group was threatened, human beings limited the number of children born to them in a variety of ways. Although we are no longer, thankfully, a subsistence culture (far from it!), there are still instances when women’s lives are simply stretched too thin to properly love and nurture a child. It is a survival issue for them (which is why the back-alley abortionists stayed in business for so long despite the terrible consequences of their botched abortions). Yes, it would be much, much better if contraceptives were used consistently; it would be much better if men would consistently accept their responsibility; it would be much better if adoption were a preferred solution. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Human beings are all-too human; contraceptives occasionally fail, and not every child who needs to be adopted is. We all want abortion to be rare, but it needs, on occasion, to be available and safe. Otherwise, we return to the bad old days of back-alley abortionists.

  • Mmm. Brian, I don’t think everyone does filter themselves – witness the grand traditions of barroom brawls and talking head television. Polite people of any gender try to, in most situations.

    Jennifer is on to what I meant, though. Deborah Tannen did much of the ground-breaking linguistic work in this area; Susan Pinker and a host of neurobiologists are adding to the data all the time… There appear to be predictable patterns in female versus male cognitive processes, assuming endocrinal norms are present and barring psychopathology (although there are interesting patterns there as well). Tannen’s work on the gender differences in communication styles is becoming part of a bigger picture involving not only social forces (as many early feminists believed), but evolutionary biology and neurochemistry as well.

    What I meant by “listener-friendly” and “girlspeak” is a very specific register used by women talking to men when they wish to maintain good relations, form an alliance, dissuade them from violence… you get the picture. It’s very often automatic; rather a routine effort at diplomatic translation than a conscious attempt to manipulate. Men who form lasting relationships with, shall we say, “outspoken” women are exposed to our unfiltered selves more often and may even develop an appreciation for them (nudge nudge), but it’s still some scary shit when we drop the girlspeak completely.

    We rarely do, under normal circumstances. The dominance of friend-or-foe, black-or-white, good-or-bad thinking is normal… but it shouldn’t be. And if women are, by nature and nurture, better at dealing with fuzzy gray areas, then we need to speak up as ourselves and try to make complexity less unusual and disagreement less threatening.

    The true abortion debate, as Sam points out, is not about abortion, good or bad. It is about the intrinsic evil and inevitable abuse of absolute moral certainty, and the price we pay in self-doubt and uncertainty when we choose to fight it.

  • Doesn’t all of this revolve around the idea that human life has intrinsic value? Ellie points out that this has not always (and still isn’t) the case in many cultures. If the argument rests on the intrinsic value of human life, then that value needs to be proven…and why it is more valuable than other forms of life. I don’t buy it…maybe i’m too Russian, but i don’t see that value. I see the value that we put into life by loving another person, but nothing that stands alone.

    Of course, the argument will quickly become one of God’s word against mine.

  • Your response, and my lack of comprehension, produced a “told ya so” from Jennifer last night. 🙂

    I’ve had the opportunity to be a fly-on-the-wall in an otherwise all-girl discussion when I was a senior in college. It was mind blowing, and something I’d never experienced before, or since, really. I sorta wish that had happened later when I was more mature and had better understanding of psychology, because while I knew enough to recognize the special nature of what I was being privileged to observe (and I sat on a cold tile dorm room floor until my butt went numb, barely moving lest I draw attention to myself), I wasn’t wise enough to be able to really internalize the experience and make me a better communicator as a result.

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  • Hmm. It might have made you “better” at interpreting girlspeak or doing your own form of diplomatic translation back across the gender line… but I do not believe that either male or female communication styles have any more or less intrinsic merit. I hope it didn’t come across that way. We’re different, and those differences appear to be at least partly built-in, and I would love to see them used as complementary rather than as competing tools in discussing important human issues.

  • I wasn’t trying to suggest that girlspeak was better in any way, and I understood that you had specifically said that neither were better. Rather I was trying to say that the opportunity would have made me more skilled as a communicator had I internalized what I heard.

    I can’t say I had thought of this before you mentioned it, but given that evolutionary pressures on the different genders are different, it makes sense that some differences are biological at this point. And where those differences are complimentary, they should be utilized as such. The important thing is to understand the differences, where each style is good and bad, and how to make the best use of both. IMO, of course.

  • I agree. But I’m not hijacking this thread any longer. 😉

  • I am already annoyed with the ungenerosity of my fellow progressives. I think abortion reduction is a good aim and paradigm. Having read the article by Sarah Posner, I find she goes overboard in resisting abortion reduction legislation. For example, she has a problem with a law requiring providers to get informed consent including the nature of the procedure and possible complications or side effects. It is an accepted ethical standard to do this for all medical procedures- why not abortion? And why does increasing support for carrying a pregnancy to term have to imply judgment on those who choose abortion? As it stands, young women and girls of some classes face judgment for carrying a pregnancy to term rather than quietly having an abortion.
    We have lived with hard-liners on the right for the past eight years and it has been anything but pleasant. Being locked in opposition gets us nowhere and uses valuable time an resources. We need “third ways” of handling our issues and conflicts to bring peace and healing to this nation.

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  • Well, as the former S.O. of a person who had an abortion at the tender age of 13, so she would not be forced into decisions that she was not prepared for, and who later married and has produced 3 wonderful young adults, I’m not gonna get into this debate on some TV episode’s treatment of a personal choice for any person who finds herself in any kind of situation where this is a real decision. I would simply state that whenever this decision needs to be made, I would hope that society has made provisions to either, a) adopt out the child at birth, or b) terminate the pregnancy as early as is possible, ensuring that said medical termination is both anonymous and safe. If neither a) nor b) is available then we have a problem that needs to be dealt with. Nuff Said!

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  • An honest debate, indeed?!

    None of the Founders of this Republic ever intended for such an act as abortion to be legal.
    To hear some liberal crazies tell it:
    Jefferson and Hamiliton debated the rights of gay marriage, Franklin argued heavily in favor
    of a woman’s right to choose infanticide. Washington met with La Merde to discuss how the US
    could look better and be more liked.

    Abortion is largely the attempt to be truly irresponsible for our most basic of actions.
    In the majority of the cases it is the result of plain ignorance- stress on the ignore prefix.

    The Torah isn’t ambiguous regarding harming the unborn; nor does it go unpunished even unintended.
    If a man injures a pregnant woman and causes loss of child:
    if the injury is by accident/chance he pays the husband and the temple a trespass fee
    if the injury is by intent or evil, then the penalty is life for life, blood for blood.

    No things aren’t all black and white, but they are not as gray as you all would imply either.
    It doesn’t matter, in many ways the die is now cast.
    Your feel good sophistries contain the germ of their own destruction.
    The secularist types embrace their freedom of cultural suicide
    by institutionalized infanticide; the slowest death possible.
    The influx of foreigners as also brought in a different culture.
    Not only do they resist learning our language, they also resist most of our ways.
    They don’t allow their sons to be queers or their daughters to be whores.
    They do not allow their children or grandchildren to be killed.
    They are taught not to fear govt but fear God/Allah.
    For every secularist aborted- 3+ believers live on

    It is simple math. A society that ceases to expand has always been displaced
    by either growing elements from within, or an influx from outside.
    This rule is as immutable as the rule of iron and force.

    The sad testimony to our national sins is the lack of orphanages and actual special needs kids at school.
    I remember once a year in the small town I grew up in, the kids at our school got stuff together to take
    to the orphanage for the kids there. Sure it was kinda sad in a way; but at least they lived…on.
    Similarly, I remember the spec ed part of school being a solid handicap wing.
    Not anymore. I was at my son’s school and saw their spec ed wing–nothing but punks.
    Nothing that couldn’t be treated with a swift consistant kick in the ass.

    Where did the orphans go?
    Where did the spec ed kids go?

    Into the void with our souls.
    Now with euthanasia and medical euthanasia, what separates us from
    the barbarians other than this virtual technical veneer?
    We think we’re better that’s why?

    We are all one EMP pulse away from seeing just how brutal and unforgiving life is.

    God have mercy on us all.
    Scratch that,
    let your Justice roll down like water.

  • Hmmm. You know, Jason, I’ve read the Bible end to end. Torah and all. As I recall, there are a LOT of things it’s not ambiguous about. Things like: rape, murder (both singular and mass), incest, slavery, genocide, pimping one’s daughters, pre-marital sex (except in the case of being pimped by one’s father), theft, pedophilia, war, and if you think I can’t provide citations, try me.

    Yeah, Jason, we have a problem. Thank you for illustrating exactly what that problem is.

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