This isn’t supposed to make sense from the outside.

I see around the leftosphere that someone named Steve Stockman is showing off a bumper sticker that says:

If babies had guns, they wouldn’t be aborted.

Our first reflex is to sputter and point at that womb-controlling, gun-pushing asshat and insist to him that if a fetus shot a gun through its mother’s abdomen, that fetus would be screwed, and besides, babies are already born so stop calling fetuses babies.

That’s not the point. This slogan isn’t about us. We’re not supposed to picture a scenario that actually makes sense. This is about combining anti-choice with pro-gun sentiment. It’s about selling the anti-gun-control position to womb-controllers.

I suppose this message is supposed to evoke the image of a fetus shooting its tiny gun at the abortion provider when he dilates the woman’s cervix, rather than threatening the pregnant woman with a bullet wound if she chooses to abort.

Considering that abortion providers already have to wear bulletproof vests to work, this rhetoric is irresponsible, but it’s not surprising. The anti-choice movement has long demonstrated that it sees nothing wrong with being pro-war, pro-death-penalty, anti-environmental-protections, anti-public-assistance, and anti-universal-healthcare. Why shouldn’t they also be anti-gun-regulations? This is just more of the same.

Mary Sue McClurkin scores fabulous own goal.

In the Alabama legislature, Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin gave this hilariously ignorant rationale for TRAP (Targeted Regulations for Abortion Providers) laws:

“When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body,” McClurkin said in an interview Thursday. “That’s a big thing. That’s a big surgery. You don’t have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that.”

If they were performing C-sections in these clinics, her concern would be legitimate. That’s a pretty big surgery with a maternal mortality rate way, way higher than your typical first-trimester abortion.

Even a full-term fetus takes up a lot less space than its mother’s skin or blood. This is the sort of thing we learn in 7th grade Biology. A pre-viable fetus—in the development range at which the overwhelming majority of abortions are performed—is still smaller than a grown woman’s liver (approx. 3 pounds) or either lung (approx. 2.4 pounds). A first-trimester embryo—which is what we’re still dealing with in most of these procedures—is considerably smaller than either of my kidneys.

As a justification for placing needlessly burdensome requirements on abortion providers, this is incandescently unrelated to reality.

All that said, it’s a much more level-headed characterization of pregnancy than, say, talking about the fetus as a separate person. If a fetus is an organ in a woman’s body, then personhood is a nonsensical idea. If it’s an organ, then surely there should be no moral objections to the woman having it removed before it gets big enough to push the other organs around. Thanks, Rep. McClurkin! Join the pro-choice side! We have vibrators and cocktails!


Harry Potter Meets the Beethoven Fallacy

This came up on Pinterest last night.

As the poster points out, it’s a lot less offensive than the pictures of mangled fetuses the womb-control crowd often carries around, so I give credit where credit is due.

However, as one commenter says, if Voldemort had been aborted, the Weasleys would still have Fred. In fact, if Tom Marvolo Riddle had never been born, the Wizarding world would have been spared a huge amount of death and misery and Harry Potter would have grown up with his parents.


The pro-choice omelette and the sociopathic egg.

The plaintiff in Roe v. Wade was a young woman named Norma McCorvey, who is now a born-again Catholic pro-life activist. Joshua Prager at Vanity Fair has an eye-opening profile of her. Here’s a taste:

Young Norma McCorvey had not wanted to further a cause; she had simply wanted an abortion and could not get one in Texas. Even after she became a plaintiff, plucked from obscurity through little agency of her own, she never did get that abortion. McCorvey thus became, ironically, a symbol of the right to a procedure that she herself never underwent. And in the decades since the Roe decision divided the country, the issue of abortion divided McCorvey too. She started out staunchly pro-choice. She is now just as staunchly pro-life.

But in truth McCorvey has long been less pro-choice or pro-life than pro-Norma. And she has played Jane Roe every which way, venturing far from the original script to wring a living from the issue that has come to define her existence.

“I almost forgot i have a one thousand dollar fee,” she texted in August in response to a request for an interview. Told she could not be paid, she texted back: “Then we wont speak.”

The cliche of breaking eggs to make omelettes is never used in the article, but I think it describes the role McCorvey played in the Roe case, especially in relation to her lawyers. The case that eventually went to the Supreme Court was, to put it bluntly, not exactly Norma McCorvey’s idea. It was the work of her lawyers, Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, who chose her as their ideal plaintiff. McCorvey at the time was dealing with an unwanted pregnancy and wanted an abortion, but she had little agency in bringing the case to the court system. Coffee and Weddington wanted to make an omelette—in this case, abortion rights for Texan women—and the egg they broke was giving Norma McCorvey a platform.

The whole article is worth a read.

Advice to GOPers: Please staple your damn mouths shut.

The latest faux pas comes from Representative Phil Gingrey of Georgia, who, I am not joking, has defended Todd Akin, of all people. Here’s the thing: if you defend Todd Akin, you deserve to be kicked out of office and run out of town on a rail. There’s no ambiguity about this. There is nothing defensible about Todd Akin, and Gingrey has just marked himself as more of the same, because he seems to think that we didn’t hear Akin the first time:

and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’ That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that.


Irish Bishops Wrong About Everything

The Catholic bishops of Ireland have released a statement regarding the death of Savita Halappanavar, and it makes about as much sense as we’ve come to expect from the organization that created and maintained the Magdalene Laundries. Here you can read it in full. More prominent bloggers have already given their responses to the “moral” positioning and “medical” information contained therein, and on those fronts, I’m just nodding along with them.

Dr. Jen Gunter attempts to interpret the bishops’ medical opinions.

PZ Myers wants to know: what makes those bishops think we want to hear anything they have to say?

The part that I want to address is this one:

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What is this I don’t even. Pro-life “tough questions”

These are the “tough questions” some womb-controller named Trevin Wax is all annoyed that nobody ever asks pro-choice politicians. Adam Lee takes his crack at them, and now I will give my take.

Granted I’m not a politician, and so I don’t need to worry about offending half the population, but I will see just how tough these questions are.

1. You say you support a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices in regards to abortion and contraception. Are there any restrictions you would approve of?

You make it sound like abortion restrictions are a good thing unto themselves. I don’t think we should sit around, trying to come up with ways to make sure women don’t have too much freedom to determine her family planning.

2. In 2010, The Economist featured a cover story on “the war on girls” and the growth of “gendercide” in the world – abortion based solely on the sex of the baby. Does this phenomenon pose a problem for you or do you believe in the absolute right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy because the unborn fetus is female?

Short answer: no, it’s not a problem.

Longer answer: I am not quite sure why the prevalence of sex selection in India and China is relevant to the debate over abortion rights in the U.S. They are not convincing us to abort our female embryos, and we do not set their agenda on reproductive freedom.

Moreover, there are major cultural factors behind son preference, which is the issue driving sex-selection. Forcing women to carry all pregnancies to spontaneous conclusion will do nothing good for women’s place in those societies, which means their preference for sons will only become more entrenched.

3. In many states, a teenager can have an abortion without her parents’ consent or knowledge but cannot get an aspirin from the school nurse without parental authorization. Do you support any restrictions or parental notification regarding abortion access for minors?

It kind of sounds like you want to have restrictions just for the sake of having restrictions.

No, I do not support parents’ right to force their daughters to give them grandchildren. Nor do I support their right to punish their daughters for opening their legs.


4. If you do not believe that human life begins at conception, when do you believe it begins? At what stage of development should an unborn child have human rights?

The question of when life begins is a separate issue from when a woman is no longer allowed to terminate her pregnancy. Let’s not forget that any “rights” we confer on a fetus must go through the personhood and quality of life of its pregnant mother. We could argue that an individual organism’s lifespan achieves a meaningful beginning at birth. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to abort in the last month of pregnancy. We could argue that the lifespan begins at implantation. That doesn’t mean the woman has lost her bodily autonomy.

5. Currently, when genetic testing reveals an unborn child has Down Syndrome, most women choose to abort. How do you answer the charge that this phenomenon resembles the “eugenics” movement a century ago – the slow, but deliberate “weeding out” of those our society would deem “unfit” to live?

Stephanie Zvan handles this one really well. Abortions of fetuses with Down Syndrome is not about a society-wide decision that people with certain disabilities are unfit to live. It is about a woman and her partner making a decision about what kinds of responsibilities they can handle. If most expectant parents think they are not up to the challenge of raising a child with Down Syndrome, then it’s a perfectly sensible decision to abort.

6. Do you believe an employer should be forced to violate his or her religious conscience by providing access to abortifacient drugs and contraception to employees?

So much bullshit, so little word count.

Check your facts before you start making up “hard” questions.

Do I think an employer should be able to control how an employee uses her health coverage or controls her fertility? No. I don’t think so at all.

7. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. has said that “abortion is the white supremacist’s best friend,” pointing to the fact that Black and Latinos represent 25% of our population but account for 59% of all abortions. How do you respond to the charge that the majority of abortion clinics are found in inner-city areas with large numbers of minorities?

If African-Americans have higher rates of unintended pregnancy—which they do—then it follows that they will place greater demand on abortion providers. Hence, the providers go where they’re needed. If African-American and Latina women don’t want to have all the babies, it’s doing them no favors to demand that their access to abortion care be curtailed. Alveda King is full of nonsense.

8. You describe abortion as a “tragic choice.” If abortion is not morally objectionable, then why is it tragic? Does this mean there is something about abortion that is different than other standard surgical procedures?

I don’t think abortion is a tragic choice. I think the reasons why her pregnancy is unwanted may be tragic; like, she has serious medical problems that are incompatible with pregnancy, or, she got pregnant because her abusive partner sabotaged her birth control. But her decision not to have a baby isn’t tragic at all.

9. Do you believe abortion should be legal once the unborn fetus is viable – able to survive outside the womb?

That depends on the circumstances. If the fetus has a condition that will make its life post-birth painful and short, then the merciful thing would be to abort. If the fetus is perfectly healthy, and truly able to survive outside, then it should be possible to induce labor and deliver the baby.

But, actually? Nearly all women, given their preference, will abort as early as possible. If they wait longer, it’s usually because they had to save up money for the procedure and travel, deal with ultrasounds, waiting periods, mandatory counseling at some sectarian third-party, and she’s a teenager who lives in a state with parental notification and she had to see a judge because her parents are abusive assholes. If you want women to get their abortions done early, then we need to make it easy for them to do it early. You don’t get to keep making up roadblocks to throw in their way, and then act like the pro-choice side is failing to answer a “tough question.”

10. If a pregnant woman and her unborn child are murdered, do you believe the criminal should face two counts of murder and serve a harsher sentence?

Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to partner violence, so I’m not going to dismiss the question out of hand.

Here’s an idea: protect pregnant women under hate crime statutes.

If someone kills a woman because she’s pregnant, try it as a hate crime and assign a harsher sentence.

If someone kills a woman who happens to be pregnant, try it as a singular homicide.

Even the Old Testament doesn’t treat the fetus as a separate person entitled to protection under the law.

#Savita could have lived with her loss.

I’m still glued to the #Savita hashtag on Twitter. It’s a sickness.

While I was browsing through the Savita-related Tweets today, I came across someone Tweeting these…words.

I’m not going to link to the Tweets. I don’t want to bring further attention on this person’s Twitter account, and besides, the idea is not unique to her. I don’t want to pick on the user.

That never would have occurred to me.

The message is true but so obvious it contributes nothing but white noise. Of course Savita would have grieved her child if she’d survived. In fact, we don’t even need to speculate on the matter of how Savita “would have” felt if she’d walked out of that hospital, because we have her husband telling us how she DID feel about her miscarriage in the small window of time in which she was still alive. She knew her daughter wouldn’t make it, and she was devastated. She really wanted that baby, but she knew the pregnancy wasn’t viable. She knew it, the medical team knew it, so what did she do? She asked the doctors to terminate the pregnancy. Savita really wanted to be a mother, but even more than that, she wanted her cervix to close up before she developed a life-threatening infection.

Then we have this:

It’s not the “baby” that’s under the attack. It’s the hospital, the medical team, and the laws.

But…seriously? No one is accusing the “baby” of anything. She was going to die no matter what, and the medical team knew it. “Defense” is a totally inapplicable concept to the fetus that died along with Savita.

However, when we’re talking about what someone would have said to Savita about her miscarriage if she’d survived: actually, I can picture myself saying to someone like her, “I’m very sorry for your loss, but I’m glad you’re okay.” I have friends who’ve experienced miscarriages. I had a conversation with one such friend about a year ago, soon after her loss. She was upset, and I was upset for her, but I was also happy to see that she had made it through the experience with minimal physical injury.

Why would I say such a thing? Why would I tell my friend that it’s good that she’s recovering so well?

Because her life does not forfeit all meaning when she fails to bring a fetus to live birth.

And that brings us to this…fascinating…idea.

I need booze.



Do you mean to say that it’s better that Savita died, because now she doesn’t have to mourn her pregnancy loss? Because that is…pretty much what the Tweet above suggests.

When Savita found out that she was losing her 17-week-gestating daughter, you know what she wanted? She wanted a prompt termination to protect her own life and health. She asked the doctors to evacuate her uterus so that the process of losing her fetus would not put her life in danger. She didn’t want to die along with her unborn daughter. Savita wanted to live with her grief.

She wanted to live.

But, because “this is a Catholic country,” they refused to extract the fetus before her heart stopped beating, and as a result of that delay, Savita died after days of horrible pain.

So, tell me: does that make her daughter any less dead?

Is the loss of Savita’s unborn little girl somehow less tragic because Savita isn’t around to grieve?

I have seen what happens when women get the appropriate medical care during miscarriages. You know what happened to all my friends who suffered pregnancy losses and lived to tell about it? They got on with their lives. Nearly all of them have since had children. I held and kissed one of those post-miscarriage babies less than a week ago. He’s beautiful and perfect in every way, and his parents are thrilled to have him. None of those children would have been born if their mothers had been left to die of sepsis from incomplete miscarriages.

Savita wanted to be a mother, and if her life had been saved with a prompt termination, she could have still had children. Her daughter was beyond help, but Savita still had a life to lead. Her mother now has to live without her.

Savita’s death was not a coincidence.

In today’s (justified) outrage over the medical neglect and death of Savita Halappanavar, there is a little talking point going around that the cause of Savita’s death was a separate issue from denial of abortion care. The question has become prevalent enough that Jodi Jacobson tackled it today at RHRC. An example of the idea is this tweet, which says:

septicemia seems to have been the killer of poor #savita not the baby or lack of termination. lack of treatment seems to be the issue

If development of septicemia is unrelated to pregnancy or premature/protracted conclusion thereof, this idea makes sense.

So, what was it that actually happened to Savita?

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Remember Savita

You may have heard about the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died  in Galway, Ireland on October 28th due to a preventable infection that resulted from a protracted miscarriage.

I’m at work now, so I’ll give you a quick round-up.

PZ Myers: It’s time to abort the Catholic Church.

Biodork: Savita Halappanavar’s death

A Million Gods: Faith and Begorrah

RH Reality Check: We are all Savita Halappanavar.

The most thorough coverage is from Michael Nugent.

Most of the links I just posted are from non-theist blogs, but even the post at the site dedicated to reproductive health issues frames the case as a matter of religious oppression.

The reason for that emphasis is in the answer Savita and her husband received from the hospital staff when they requested a medical termination of the non-viable pregnancy: “This is a Catholic country.”

That is not a scientifically or medically meaningful explanation. Mrs. Halappanavar was denied life-saving care because of laws based on Catholic beliefs. The fact that Savita was not Catholic did not save her from dying under Catholic rules. Of course, we all expect someone to follow the laws of the country in which they’ve decided to live. The doctors at University Hospital would not have escaped prosecution for providing an abortion simply because their patient was of a different religion than the majority of the country. That there is the problem: doctors in Ireland who care for pregnant women have to fear prosecution if they perform abortions, even to save their patients’ lives. If the law only makes sense from within a religious framework, then it is effectively forcing other people to live within someone else’s religion.

When those religion-based laws result in easily preventable deaths, one might even call it a violation of human rights. Savita could have recovered, gotten on with her life and had more babies. Instead, she was left to die of septicemia after days of horrible pain because “this is a Catholic country.”