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Celebration

Because I am too depressed about my country’s descent into theocon-administered kleptocracy, I haven’t bothered to keep track of the charade known as the Roberts confirmation hearings.  (Though while in SF I did catch a few minutes on NPR and heard Roberts being asked if there were any specific precedents he’d like to revisit, and though he didn’t reply audibly, I did hear Arlen Specter say, “Three words.  OK.  First word.  Rhymes with.  Under.  Beneath.  Low.  Low!  Rhymes with low. . . .")

So I missed this lovely moment, captured for us Internets users by Michael Scherer at Salon:

Not to be outdone, Sen. Sam Brownback. R-Kan., brought in Abby Loy, a pretty 14-year-old girl with Down syndrome, who wore a blue flower made of ribbon on her dress. For a few moments at the hearing, she stood behind Brownback’s chair, a prop in his continuing effort to outlaw abortion. “We want to celebrate her,” Brownback said, by which he meant that he was happy she had not been aborted. Last week, Brownback used time during the questioning of Roberts to talk about “Jimmy,” a man with Down syndrome who runs one of the Senate elevators.

“I would just ask you, Judge Roberts, to consider—and probably you can’t answer here today—whether the individuals with disabilities have the same constitutional rights that you and I share while they’re in the womb,” Brownback asked

OK, Senator Brownback, listen up and listen good.  Jamie Bérubé is a 14-year-old with Down syndrome, and I celebrate Jamie every mother-lovin’ day.  Right now, in fact, Janet and I are celebrating his right to attend seventh grade with his nondisabled peers; we visited his science class yesterday, and we celebrated his use of the microscope and we celebrated the moment he raised his hand in response to a question, was called on, and said that some cells might look like “rectangles or squares.” And while I’ve counseled other parents—and genetics counselors themselves—that a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome should not be followed automatically by a decision to terminate the pregnancy, I strongly believe that all such advice should be a matter of persuasion rather than coercion.  Many families, for whatever reasons, decide that they do not have the financial or emotional resources to raise a child with a significant disability, and I do not support clerics, mullahs, and their elected-official enablers who insist that the police power of the state be marshalled to compel those families to bear children against their will.  Furthermore, unlike most contemporary conservatives and unlike all libertarians, I insist that the full health-education-and-welfare resources of the state be made available to every family that does decide to bear a child with a disability.

You, Sam—you and your cohort of extremists in Opus Dei, together with your extremist counterparts on the other side of the Reformation—profess to be worried about the constitutional rights that accrue to fetuses, embryos, and zygotes.  Indeed, you are so worried about the rights of fetuses that you will install at the head of our nation’s highest court a man who almost surely will strip numerous constitutional rights from living humans.  But then, your cohort is not always as concerned about humans ex utero as humans in utero.  You all have made that clear time and time again.  And one of the differences between people like me, who are actually raising children with disabilities while supporting other prospective parents’ right to determine what will happen with their bodies and their families, and people like you, for whom attractive 14-year-olds with Down syndrome are props to be used in the service of theocracy, is that people like me do not necessarily want to invoke the power of the state to ensure that our own choices are made mandatory for everybody else.  People like me celebrate reproductive rights as one of the cornerstones of individual freedom; people like you are dedicated to finding ways of making individual rights pass right through a woman’s body, so that they adhere only to the zygote-embryo-fetus in the womb.

I’m not alone, either.  People like Digby say

I believe that a woman’s right to choose gets to the very heart of what it means to be an autonomous, free human being. Control of one’s own body is fundamental to individual liberty. If the church believes that abortion is morally wrong it should instruct its voluntary membership not to do it. Individuals must always be allowed to follow their own consciences. But there should be no legal coercion on such a personal matter.

And people like Dr. B. say

Women have abortions because they need them. They have them because they know that they cannot raise children right in poverty, in abuse, with no educations, under punitive social conditions, in desperate circumstances. They know that adoption is, at best, only sometimes an option, and they are unwilling to take that chance with their own children. Women have abortions, at great expense and trouble, despite abuse and ostracization, despite great shame and disapproval, in the face of myriad laws trying to prevent them from doing so, because they are responsible.

I’m just so proud of Jamie, you know.  That’s why I celebrate him all the time.  And I’m grateful to live in a country where our decision to welcome him into the family was our decision—mine and Janet’s.  We think that’s the way it oughta be.

Posted by on 09/23 at 11:38 AM
  1. Right on! (I almost wrote “Amen” but then couldn’t decide if the pun was intended or not ... both maybe).

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  02:07 PM
  2. Many thanks, John.  This secular blog will also accept “solid!” as a rough synonym for “right on” and “amen.”

    Posted by Michael  on  09/23  at  02:23 PM
  3. Write on! Conscience has changed the world and will again. Conscience is forever free, the force unfettered that finds the right, right within ourselves.

    The power of love is in your words and I take some of your strength in them.

    Posted by The Heretik  on  09/23  at  02:25 PM
  4. Solid Michael.
    This is a heartfelt and extraordinary enter?  Who does self righteous bastards like Brownback think they are?  How dare they use the disabled as props and accuse us of being immoral?  How do thye tall us what to thin k and what to do and how to behave?  We have consciences.  We are human.  We struggle with our own lives.  I cannot say that in the same circumstances as you and Janet that I would be as exemplary.  but, of course, we believe in choice and not theocratic dictates.

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  03:29 PM
  5. Damn right! Please consider submitting your essay as an Op-Ed piece to the Washington Post.

    And have a great time continuing to celebrate Jamie’s 14th birthday of last weekend and planning to celebrate your mid-40ish-th of this coming Monday. (If I misremembered the day, hope you celebrate it anyway.) Make it a week of celebrations. Bon anniversaire!

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  05:30 PM
  6. If Sen Brownback read this, and had any sense of shame, he would immediately resign from the Senate. But he probably won’t, and he certainly doesn’t.

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  05:47 PM
  7. Right on, Michael!  And so when are *you* going to run for office, I’d like to know (only half facetiously).

    Posted by Tina  on  09/23  at  05:49 PM
  8. I second the notion that this should be published on as many op-ed pages around the country as posible.  (You’ve got a lotta readers here, but more people need to see this side of the issue.)

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  06:12 PM
  9. There is a special place in hell reserved for people who use disabled children to further their pet causes.  Exploitation of a child who may or may not know precisely what’s going on is just wrong.  On so many different levels.

    Posted by Natalie  on  09/23  at  07:24 PM
  10. My niece died a year ago from Downs Syndrome, at the age of 21. She had been completely disabled since a heart attack at age 2, and on a feeding tube with a stay-at-home mother and a night nurse for several years. My brother and his wife struggled to take care of her by themselves and pay for the night nurse until they had her declared a ward of the state, and the state paid for the nurse after that. After she turned 18, they had to have a legal guardian appointed for her to continue her extensive medical care costs.

    Not only do the Republicans oppose abortion, they don’t want to pay for these children whose parents can’t afford their care either. That is what gets me the most - they don’t want the abortion, they don’t want the contraception, but they don’t want to pay for the child’s care, either.

    You just can’t have it all ways, guys.

    Posted by donna  on  09/23  at  07:37 PM
  11. OT, but I can’t find a way to join so I can mail you (sorry!)

    Blogroll maintenance request from Corrente

    I’m updating our blogroll—if you have a minute, could you please update your blogroll so that it links to the new, renovated Corrente site? Here is the link:

    CorrenteWire.

    Thanks for linking to us!

    We also have several new writers, each with their own unique voice…

    Again, many thanks!

    Posted by lambert strether  on  09/23  at  08:07 PM
  12. Donna, I’m sorry to hear of your loss.

    Michael, what everyone else said about the Op-Ed thing.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/23  at  08:33 PM
  13. Motion to submit post to Op_Ed pages, seconded, and so carried.

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  10:12 PM
  14. What makes this especially heartwarming is that the last time they did this, they were parading the “snowflake babies,” who are not only babies created and then implanted so that their parents can raise “their own” child and not adopt one of the many, many existing special needs children who need homes, they come from embryos that were eugenically culled to remove all those which might not come out to spec.

    Posted by julia  on  09/23  at  10:53 PM
  15. that brownback [brownbag?] is such a damned loser.... 

    michael, you have hit it all on the nail.  personal family choices. you made a great one for your family.  please give jamie hugs from his secret aunties and uncles, as appropriate.

    Posted by  on  09/23  at  11:33 PM
  16. I celebrate Jamie and your fantastic post on this subject. 

    Your post proves why we need to be more aggressive in defending Roe v. Wade and abortion rights in a way that emphasizes the best of our human values.  Abortion is still a complicated thing, but it’s why women must maintain their authority to make decisions concerning what is happening inside their bodies. 

    Is the third trimester abortion questionable in the balancing of a right to privacy over one’s body and the privacy of a patient-doctor relationship, on the one hand, and the right of a developing baby as he/she nears birth on the other?  Yes, even Roe v. Wade says that.  However, the anti-abortion leadership and Republicans who oppose abortion don’t care about limits on third trimester abortions because they know that most Americans today would be satisfied with that and the issue might well become a far less controversial issue.

    If the anti-abortion leaders were interested, they would, for example, seek legislation to define the Supreme Court’s phrase “health of the mother” with some specificity (Roe’s companion case, Doe v. Bolton, allowed government to ban third trimester abortions to protect the life or health of the woman).  The Republicans in Congress have also cynically rejected a well-worded third trimester ban on the medical procedure often misnamed, though popularly known as, a “partial birth abortion” (See Nancy Pelosi’s and Tom Daschle’s bills that only some decent anti-abortionists recognized as a meaningful bill).  Instead, the Republican Congress passed a vague and overbroad “partial birth abortion ban” law that is clearly inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent that stretches from Roe v. Wade/Doe v. Bolton (1973) to the case a few years ago overturning a similarly worded Nebraska state law.  And so far, it’s been held unconstitutional as it makes its way through appellate procedures.

    All this re-enforces Donna’s point, in her poignant and heartbreaking post, that too many Republican politicians and leaders in the anti-abortion movement only want government to act on behalf of babies who are inside women’s bodies, but not after those babies are born.

    Posted by Mitchell Freedman  on  09/24  at  01:52 AM
  17. Me bad.  I meant to say about Doe v. Bolton that the Supreme Court held a woman’s right to an abortion could be banned EXCEPT to protect the life or health of that individual woman.

    Sorry.

    Posted by Mitchell Freedman  on  09/24  at  01:54 AM
  18. Bravo, Michael!

    I know this is not the first time you’ve written about supporting peoples’ informed decisions on pregnancy, whatever they may. But I always like when you address this topic because you do it so well. 

    Yeah, I like the op-ed idea. And I sure wish you were one of the token “liberal” talking heads on corporate TV so more people could hear you. Um, well, hear you between being screamed at by whatever right-wing nut job would be hosting the show!

    Posted by  on  09/24  at  02:27 AM
  19. Impressive.

    Posted by  on  09/24  at  03:24 AM
  20. Thank you for saying this with so much strength and eloquence (as usual).  Your writing gives me hope.

    Posted by maggie may  on  09/24  at  10:40 AM
  21. Michael,
    I do not agree with you on the Roe v. Wade issue. Unfortunately, I can agree when you say,
    “But then, your cohort is not always as concerned about humans ex utero as humans in utero.”

    Posted by  on  09/24  at  01:07 PM
  22. Better Than Great.

    However, I have one criticism: Focusing on the importance of choice and personal autonomy rather than addressing the pro-life argument (i.e. that a fetus is a moral person) on its merits is really dangerous.  If we allow the argument that a fetus is a entitled to moral personhood (and therefore that abortion = murder) to slide, then all this great stuff about “choice” loses much or all of its persuasive power. 

    (I’d use trackback, but it’s not working for some reason.  Apologies for the blogwhoring, but I have a post about this post here.  Despite this criticism, though, I just want to make it clear that I thought this post was unbelievably good).

    Posted by Nick  on  09/24  at  02:13 PM
  23. Right on, Michael. You nailed exactly how many of us feel who are actually raising children with disabilities while supporting others’ reproductive rights. Thanks.

    Posted by  on  09/24  at  03:15 PM
  24. Thanks, everyone.  Nick, I messed with the trackback mechanism on this blog because I was getting hammered by casino/ poker sites (check the archives for 2004 posts and you’ll see what I mean).  Sorry about that.  And Julana, thanks for weighing in.  Reasonable people can disagree about Roe v. Wade, and I don’t think that those who disagree with me are damned or warped or evil.  I’m always glad to hear from people who oppose abortion and who realize that their position on humans in utero entails ancillary obligations to humans ex utero.

    As for elective office:  I’m still looking at the VP ticket in 2016.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/24  at  04:13 PM
  25. Solid, very solid.

    Posted by  on  09/24  at  06:12 PM
  26. There is a reason this is happening to our nation. It is not the product of the free marrket of ideas. It was paid for by the man who said his job as the messiah was to raise up the religious right for power in America and he DID IT! He outpent Scaife gatheriong them together and giving them backbone with his many front groups.

    Brownback like all conservatives today are the new this messiah’s unwitting tools, bringing theofascism to America.

    There is a reason this is happening. There is a reason.

    You would think they never read John 5:43.

    Posted by  on  09/25  at  12:51 AM
  27. First let me appologize for letting my state elect this fake Christian. Let’s not forget that when Brownback(I call him skidmark) was first elected to congress he was pro-choice and wouldn’t sign the contract with America.  The local paper in Wichita lauded him for being a level headed.  Then came the Summer of Mercy and the right found a new bunch of voters.  Thats when he decided to become born again. At least he is against cloning so we won’t have another copy of him any time soon.  Regards from Kansas, where the earth is only 6000 yrs old and flat.

    Posted by  on  09/25  at  12:47 PM
  28. Michael, I’m so glad someone else - especially someone with the moral authority to do so - is picking up on this. I was really beginning to think I was the only one to find Brownback’s tactics, and the Judiciary Committee’s giggling, so pathetic, sickening and condescending. I’ve written a far ruder and less eloquent piece than yours here (http://hairytruth.blogspot.com/2005/09/senator-sam-brownback-ya-gotta-love-em.html), but the point is much the same.

    Take care,
    Hank

    Posted by truth4achange  on  09/25  at  01:42 PM
  29. Brad, we forgive you. But you guys really need to get on that “no minimum age for marriage if you knock her up first” thing.

    Michael, thank you a million times for posting this.  What boggles me is--where were this girl’s parents? What were they thinking, allowing a slimy politician to use her as a prop for laws that have nothing to do with their daughter and will never help her in any way?

    Posted by mythago  on  09/26  at  01:40 AM
  30. Belated kudos on this great post! I think you should get it to every Op-Ed you can. As far as running for office, it would be great to have people like you in Congress. However, I think you are probably too smart and certainly too honest to be elected, more’s the pity.

    Posted by  on  09/26  at  01:34 PM
  31. Reading this thread one would never suspect that there are many agnostics, deists, athiests, pagans, wiccans, why even Eastern Orthodox, who have a problem with roe v. wade and abortion.

    Let’s keep something in perspective: (I estimate) at least 98%, probably more, of abortions are performed on fetuses who are not the product of rape or incest and who are not physically disabled in any way.

    But I too do condem any politician who for any reason at all advocates policy with guilt-laden appeals to the sake of “the children”.

    Posted by  on  09/26  at  04:22 PM
  32. Thank you Michael, for writing this.  As someone with multiple disabilities, I find the *most* important problem with Brownback’s tactic to be the “care for the fetus, without paying for the child,” idea.  The disabled get used to generate pity or guilt, but then…

    No one on either side should forget that pro life politicians often:

    Vote to cut Medicaid.
    Vote to put people in nursing homes when homecare is actually *cheaper.*
    Have been pushing an agenda to combine Vocational Rehab with other employment agencies, thus essentially making it policy to “hire abled first” and then getting to the disabled who want jobs. 

    We’re tools and examples for those who don’t have our best interests at heart, and it just has to stop.

    I love your posts about Jaime, and wish you all many more excellent celebrations

    Posted by Jean  on  09/26  at  11:55 PM
  33. Daniel is right.  Many of those religious folks have problems with abortion.  I however do not have a problem with abortion, and the damned religious folks can do what they please.  What kind of “perspective” is that? 

    Anyway, before I read Daniel’s attempt at melioration or compromise or whatever the hell that was, I wanted to say:

    .....Solid.....(welling up, no less)

    Posted by BP  on  09/27  at  12:00 AM
  34. Why are so many people sad. Cheer up this is not the end.

    Posted by orlando  on  09/29  at  03:57 AM
  35. "I’m just so proud of Jamie, you know.  That’s why I celebrate him all the time.  And I’m grateful to live in a country where our decision to welcome him into the family was our decision—mine and Janet’s.”

    As a culmination to your argument, that’s dodging the issue.  I hold no great admiration for Sam Brownback, but he’s closer to the fundamental question, which I could rephrase as follows:  do you still have the choice to terminate Jamie now?  If not, what is the fundamental difference between Jamie now and Jamie in the womb?  When exactly did his life pass beyond your jurisdiction?

    Telling the Catholic Church (full disclosure:  I am not a member) that their moral beliefs are fine so long as they keep them to themselves is insipid.  To them, abortion is the termination of a human life.  You might as well tell them to tolerate infanticide, or rape.  If they concede to your demand, then they must eventually concede to everyone else’s.

    There are plenty of demagogues on the pro-life side, and a fair proportion of pro-lifers probably have ulterior motives behind their position.  But those criticisms are equally applicable to pro-choicers.  It would be nice if a pro-choice argument could be crafted that took the average pro-lifer at his/her word, and recognized that these people honestly believe that a fetus is human.  Once you acknowledge this, the rest of their positions are only logical.

    Posted by  on  09/29  at  10:47 AM
  36. As a culmination to your argument, that’s dodging the issue.

    I respectfully disagree.  Here’s why.

    Do you still have the choice to terminate Jamie now?  If not, what is the fundamental difference between Jamie now and Jamie in the womb?

    First question:  no.  Second question:  he’s alive now.  My criterion is that of viability, as I argue at some length in the second chapter of Life As We Know It.

    Telling the Catholic Church (full disclosure:  I am not a member) that their moral beliefs are fine so long as they keep them to themselves is insipid.

    Their beliefs should, of course, cover their believers.  But they should not be granted the police power of the state.  That’s not insipid.  That’s the Enlightenment talking.

    It would be nice if a pro-choice argument could be crafted that took the average pro-lifer at his/her word, and recognized that these people honestly believe that a fetus is human.  Once you acknowledge this, the rest of their positions are only logical.

    Only logical?  Really?  But then, as Scott Lemieux painstakingly points out, they should insist that women who have abortions be charged with first-degree murder.  In reality, very few “pro-life” advocates go that far down their own logical road. 

    The thing is this.  If someone believes, for religious or vitalist or whatever reasons, that the zygote is fully human, s/he should act on that belief accordingly.  But s/he should not attempt to use the power of the state to compel everyone else to accede to that belief.  I do pro-life advocates the courtesy of taking them at their word when they insist that zygotes and embryos have the same moral status as living humans.  I just don’t want their Word to become law.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/29  at  03:48 PM
  37. "My criterion is that of viability, as I argue at some length in the second chapter of Life As We Know It.”

    I’m not impolite enough to ask you to expound on this chapter here, but unfortunately I do not have the time to chase the book down and read it, either.  I doubt there’s anything there to sway the average pro-lifer, but “viability” is a slippery concept.  It changes as technology changes.  Strictly speaking, an infant is not viable.  If you don’t feed it, it dies, in much the same fashion that Terry Schiavo was starved to death several months ago.

    “...he’s alive now.”

    And he’s awfully lucky, since he apparently didn’t get that way until an arbitrary line was drawn by his parents.  Although really, we’re not speaking of when he came to be “alive,” but when he came to be “human.”

    “Their beliefs should, of course, cover their believers.  But they should not be granted the police power of the state.  That’s not insipid.  That’s the Enlightenment talking.”

    Does your sense of when it is appropriate for the state to legislate morality exclude solely religious conviction?  Or all conviction?  When it comes to abortion, I share many of their beliefs, yet I am an agnostic.  For that matter, practically all morality as enforced by the state - prohibitions against murder, rape, etc. - have, at root, a religious basis.  Shall we exclude them as well?  Or simply deny their origins?

    Your prohibition on religious convictions being enforced by the state is insipid on at least two grounds:  (1) the state already does this, whether you acknowledge it or not; (2) it relegates practically all moral decisions to the personal sphere.  The decision to have the state enforce a redistribution of wealth such that the disabled are supported is a moral decision - it involves, after all, the (sometimes) involuntary taking of income from others.  Shall we limit such giving to those who want to give in the future?  Is your conviction that support for the disabled is a moral imperative one that you are willing to force on everyone?

    “...In reality, very few “pro-life” advocates go that far down their own logical road.”

    The most logical would stop at manslaughter, or reckless endangerment, or at least those are the arguments I have seen.  The problem is not, after all, that those who “choose” abortion, most often for convenience, maliciously intended to slay another human being.  They simply do not recognize the fetus as human.

    Pro-lifers these days like to bring up the slavery analogy, which prompts a great deal of head-scratching on the pro-choice side.  But again, the reasoning is quite logical.  There is nothing overtly wrong with slavery - we enslave animals routinely and, save a few fringe activists, without much thought.  The unforgivable crime was the widespread belief - or rationalization, if you will - that black-skinned Africans were less than human, and therefore enslavable.  I find the analogy rather apt, myself.

    “If someone believes, for religious or vitalist or whatever reasons, that the zygote is fully human, s/he should act on that belief accordingly.  But s/he should not attempt to use the power of the state to compel everyone else to accede to that belief.”

    Fun game to play:  if someone believes that [Michael Berube]/[a Jew]/[an African-American]/[a woman] (or me, for that matter), is fully human, s/he should act on that belief accordingly, but…

    I will not deny that there are some thorny issues for the pro-life side - all those frozen embryos stored in freezers in fertility clinics, to take one example - but I find practically all of the arguments on the pro-choice side to be little more than self-serving excuses for selfishness or hedonism.  I can identify with them, because I’m only human, but I cannot rationally condone them.

    I should mention that I don’t bring up this debate here in any overtly mean-spirited sense.  I enjoy reading your blog, even when I disagree with it (hell, I’m a Penn State grad).  But I do part company with you on this.

    Posted by  on  09/29  at  08:51 PM
  38. Fun game to play:  if someone believes that [Michael Berube]/[a Jew]/[an African-American]/[a woman] (or me, for that matter), is fully human, s/he should act on that belief accordingly, but. . . .

    Well, I disagree with you that eliding the differences between zygotes and living humans is a fun game to play.

    And I think your earlier analogy between taxation and a state-enforced religious belief in the sanctity of the zygote-embryo-fetus is, um, insipid, purchased by a sleight-of-hand involving the terms “religious” and “moral.” So yes, let’s agree to part company on this one.  I’ll stick with my commitment to viability, which, you’ll find, is a significantly less flexible criterion than you imagine—unless you imagine that fetuses can survive outside the womb without lungs.

    As for your claim that all the pro-choice arguments are selfish or hedonistic:  I’m guessing you’ve never met a woman who was beaten by her boyfriend or her husband or her parents for getting pregnant. 

    Posted by Michael  on  09/29  at  11:17 PM
  39. "Well, I disagree with you that eliding the differences between zygotes and living humans is a fun game to play.”

    And your average racist will take you to task for eliding the differences between whoever they’ve chosen to hate and the Aryan super-race.  There are certainly differences - by some criteria of “viability,” a zygote, or fetus, clearly differs from an infant.  An infant is also clearly different from us, as Singer, among others, is wont to point out.  And, as we found out in heart-wrenching fashion last month, there are any number of elderly and disabled people who aren’t terribly viable, even with people to care for them, when the power goes out.  I think that “viability” is a far more plastic term than you seem to realize.

    “As for your claim that all the pro-choice arguments are selfish or hedonistic: Im guessing youve never met a woman who was beaten by her boyfriend or her husband or her parents for getting pregnant.”

    So, let’s say they beat her for actually having the child.  Should she kill it to spare herself the beatings?  Should we normally respond to these sorts of situations by creating another victim?  Again, this is just a dodge of the issue.

    We wouldn’t be having the stem cell debate at all if scientists had to extract them from the dissected brains of toddlers.  Or would we, eventually?  Are there some children who suffer from disabilities so severe that we might be able to redefine them as something less than human?  We seem already to be willing to do this for people who reach a certain age, past their normal usefulness.  Why not define humanity down just a little further?  You know, for the greater good.

    You’re right, though, in that I’ve never met a woman in that situation.  Perhaps you have.  But there is also a difference between “all” pro-choice arguments and “practically all.” There aren’t many absolutists who would fail to make exceptions for health of the mother, and all of that.  Still, I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of abortions are performed for reasons of convenience - “I’m not ready,” (as if anyone ever is), “I can’t afford to raise a child,” etc.  Would you bet otherwise?

    “And I think your earlier analogy between taxation and a state-enforced religious belief in the sanctity of the zygote-embryo-fetus is, um, insipid, purchased by a sleight-of-hand involving the terms religious and moral. “

    Um, no.  When the state steps in to support the disabled, using its power of taxation to fund it, it is making an explicitly moral decision.  Insofar as left-leaning intellectuals have any affinity for religion, after all, it is the soft-serve Jesus who mandated exactly that sort of charity.  We could just as well leave the disabled to themselves and to whatever family or local community they are lucky enough to have.  There are some who would have it that way; they’d rather have a new Lexus than pay for home care for some paraplegic they’ve never met.  I’m not sure what you’re failing to see here.

    For some - a resounding majority, actually, to judge from most polls - morality stems from religious belief.  It is, at the least, antidemocratic to exclude them from the public square on that basis.  It is also one thing to debate the applicability of religious prohibitions on adultery, to take one example, to state-enforced mandates.  It is quite another when what you are dealing with is the definition of humanity.  Religious conviction belongs in that discussion.

    I’d be somewhat interested in knowing where your “morality” comes from if not from religious antecedents.  This is something I wrestle with (intellectually, anyway) all the time, as an agnostic.  Because if it’s simply a matter of democratically determined laws, then most minority persecutions represent eminently moral enterprises.  Your morality - and mine, for that matter - is rather similar to none at all.

    Posted by  on  09/30  at  09:14 AM
  40. Excellent read!  I just wish the pro-life people would start protesting graveyards and funding immortality research on top of their crusade against abortions.

    Posted by billy cuts  on  10/02  at  03:54 AM
  41. I’d be somewhat interested in knowing where your “morality” comes from if not from religious antecedents.

    OK, M. Bulger, I suppose this one depends on the meaning of “somewhat.” Because I really have written an entire book on the subject, which will answer this question much more thoroughly than I can hope to do in a blog comment.  Thanks for sticking around.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/02  at  11:49 PM
  42. Posted by  on  10/03  at  02:39 PM
  43. To the original post—Brav-fucking-o!

    To the recent comment spat—who knew that the Rams quarterback could read?  (Not counting Norm Van Brocklin—reading knowledge of Dutch and Flemish only).

    Posted by  on  10/05  at  02:35 AM
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