Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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As averse to abortion as I have become, I find I believe, as a woman, that in the last analysis it is a woman's business whether she goes through with a pregnancy or not.

These are my sentiments also. Making abortion illegal will not solve the problem of abortion. Education is needed to have less abortions just like education is used in discouraging smoking cigarettes. It's more realistic.

Ruth Anne

I say this as someone who would have had an abortion even if it was illegal, but would not have -- even in pretty desperate circumstances -- if I had fully understood what was at stake.

Can you clarify this? Are you saying that you did now know what was at stake when you aborted, or that you didn't know what would follow, or something else?

Ruth Anne


Peter Hoh

At least Huckabee's position on abortion is more honest than most. For a generation, politicians on one side have used the issue to activate pro-lifers, taken their votes and their money, and done as little as possible to change the status quo.

Think how quickly the "defense of marriage" folks acted to propose a federal amendment to oppose same-sex marriage. I must admit, of course, that the politicians dropped the issue after using it for several election cycles, but at least they proposed an end run around the courts, which they have never seriously proposed for the abortion issue.


I'm saying that I didn't fully and deeply grasp what was at stake, and that I was unknowingly a brainwashed member of a culture (in the sense that we're all "brainwashed" by whatever culture we belong to) that actively discouraged looking frankly and directly at it. My situation was very difficult in a number of ways, but if I had had the perspective I have now, I would have been simply unable to take that way out.

Tom Strong

Sadly but inevitably, America will balkanize into areas where abortion is available and others where it's illegal.

I'm skeptical of this, actually. There will be pressure, at the very least, for Federal intervention between different state laws, and both sides will seek it.

Internet Ronin

I understand your feeling and five him credit for not mincing words on a variety of issues. Positions were short, unequivocal and in plain English. Which is why, likeable though her may be, he is not electable.

Ruth Anne

What, if you had known it then, would have been enough to make you choose a different path? I'm more interested from the perspective of being able to talk to women who are in the dilemma, and I would like to be able to help them see a different way out than abortion. I think this goes to your hearts-and-minds-not-laws-and-statutes being turned.


Ruth Anne: that that is a unique individual who is already here and will never, ever come again. That you passed through the same exact stages of development yourself and were completely at the mercy of the mother in whose womb you were growing. That it's an awesome thing that's happened -- the beginning of a likely 80-year journey that will be tremendously important to all the other lives it touches. That whatever seems more important to you right now will, in the fullness of time and the perspective of age, probably appear lightweight and fleeting compared to the existence of a human being. (None of these arguments might be as persuasive to a woman who knows all this because she already has several children and feels she can't physically, emotionally, or financially afford another.)

I think many young women who've had their might by a pregnancy would feel, "But what about me? What about my moment in the sun?" That's question that should have been very seriously considered before she got pregnant, but now what? The only possible answer is from an older person's perspective, which may not get through, and that is that life turns out to be much more about the surprises than the plans. There's a way in which life knows best. (I'm deliberately giving the nonreligious arguments.)


Oh, and: you could have your moment in the sun when you're in your 40s.

Ruth Anne

Thank you. In a similar vein, I notice a lot of young people unhappily single. I believe that there is someone for almost everyone who has a yearning to be in a couple. A woman I spent a lot of time with outside of our local abortion clinic said, "that's true, but their mate might have been aborted" and it stopped me in my tracks.


That's disturbing on many levels. Too many levels, in fact.

I don't know how many times I have to say it, but men have NO rights or viable opinions in the abortion debate. They can speak to their spouses/significant others and voice their wants then, but in the court of public opinion they are nothing more than vacuous troglodytes trying to control what they've always tried to control: women. Abortion is a gender-specific question that should be out of politics, out of law (except ensuring proper medical care), and out of the male purview of discussion.

I don't know enough about FairTax to comment.

A fence? To keep others out or us in? That's a slippery slope. Sounds like a national gulag to me. Soon we'll be locked into America while segregating ourselves from everyone else. Imagine if Native Americans had built such a fence... Then again, they're the only people with the right to do so.

And four is just bigotry incarnate. Doesn't he understand the Islamic god is the Jewish god is the Christian god? But for Muslims, he's impersonal? And it's not our way of life they hate. I'm sorry, but that tired melodrama has gotten old. It's our world views and our general stance toward Islam/Muslim countries that they hate. Sure, they want to destroy Israel, something I don't agree with, but they want freedom and security for Palestinians, which we've never supported and always given less than lip service to. Nay, that whole comment is disgusting because it comes from someone clueless and full of hatred and intolerance on the issue. Go ahead, insult their religion; it just proves their point.


You will never change the culture if the law does not take the lead. The law has a critically important teaching function. One important reason to outlaw abortion is to send the signal that we as a nation believe that abortion is wrong -- very wrong -- always and everywhere.

As for the "there will always be abortion" argument, I have the following responses:

1. Outlawing murder, rape, drug use and child abuse does not eliminate those wrongs but we still outlaw them.

2. Outlawing abortion will reduce abortion.

3. "Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it, and right is right, even if no one is." St. Augustine.


"I don't know how many times I have to say it, but men have NO rights or viable opinions in the abortion debate."

Assuming Jason is male, he disqualifies himself from his own argument and therefore there is no need to address it.


Dan: "You will never change the culture if the law does not take the lead."

How thankful I am that it just ain't so! (Not that it keeps people from trying to use the law to change the culture.) Occasionally the law can push the culture tochange further and faster than it already was. Many of us have seen that in our lifetimes. But, if we think about it, we can also see places where the law was used in an attempt to change the culture -- and what got changed (back, or in a different direction entirely) was the law.


Interesting approach, Dan. Feeble and small, yes, but interesting nonetheless. Actually, it's a cop-out. You want to control women and tell them what they can and can't do with their own bodies, yet you also want to avoid the truth of the matter: you, as a man, have no say. Nice, but not very convincing.

Is abortion wrong? You might think so, but it's a choice you'll never face and can never truly understand. I happen to disagree with abortion; similarly, I happen to think it should be legal and left up to women to decide. See, that's a real man speaking, one who can easily state when he shouldn't be involved in what others do.


Sorry, Dan, your black-and-white absolutism here may be pro-life in one sense, but it is anti-life in another. Life is just not that simple. Would you abolish all war, including just wars, because innocents are inevitably killed as "collateral"? In my essay I locate abortion in a gray area similar to that of war. And war kills and maims fully formed, fully sentient people. For women, for much of history, sex and childbearing have been as mortal, as dangerous, and as bloody as war. These are our front lines. We are only halfway, if that, to taking more responsibility for them, and you're ready to take that responsibility away.

Most societies and religions, including Christianity for long stretches of its history, have not accorded full legal citizenship to the embryo in its earliest stages, nor have they regarded abortion as murder, for obvious practical reasons, foremost among them, Who is going to feed that mouth? Early abortion is actually relatively humane compared to its predecessor, infanticide.

Mind you, I'm horrified by it, directly and personally. I'm horrified that we have this power to wish away an individual on the way -- and so unthinkingly! But we do have the power and in the first trimester it is the the woman who should have it, not the men's council. (By the way, how often do men pressure women to have abortions the women don't want?) I have no problem with urging women to regard that power with fear and trembling as a sacred trust, especially if you teach the same to men.

As I have said before, I don't see abortion as either a right to be demanded or a crime to be forbidden, but a tragedy to be prevented.


Intentionally killing an unborn child is not remotely comparable to the unavoidable but inevitable civilian death in a just war. The latter is the unavoidable consequence of a just act, the former is the intended consequence of an evil act.

The Church always has condemned abortion. Always. It is true that before the 1830s or so we did not know when or how conception occurred and that as a consequence some Catholic theologians, such as St. Augustine, did not take into account the scientific possibility that conception occurs as early as it does. This of course does not mean that these theologians intended to give license, or would have ever dreamed of giving license, to a woman to kill her unborn child.

From what I have seen, abortion is not only fatal for the child but it also is very bad for women. Whereas an "unwanted" child cannot be blamed for ever having ruined a woman's life, abortion has ruined the lives of many women. Jason says we should listen to women. Let us to do so. Here are the words of Karin Struck, a recently deceased German writer who had an abortion:

"Abortion has never been a solution in the true sense of the word for women (and men) in need. Abortion is a terrible capitulation."

"I know from bitter personal experience that both the man and the woman can 'forget' that abortion is the killing of a child and the ruination of conscience, forget because, to take the example of the young woman I was, they can be blinded by the ideology of abortion as 'psychosocially indicated,' by the temptation of atheism and communism, which regard man, including unborn man, as nothing but a piece of mechanism. A person like me has a duty to society and to posterity to give testimony as a kind of 'fallen angel.' To be a responsible, 'committed' writer also means to expose, and train a ruthless spotlight on every corner of, one’s own 'moral AIDS,' to use Wolf Biermann’s term for German entanglement in the crimes of the Stasi. One often confesses one’s guilt only when it is no longer dangerous and the deeds lie far in the past (sometimes not even then, though), but not while they are being done. A tragic fact of history. When it comes to abortion, children are the victims of this fact. So too are women, men and doctors – even as they are also its perpetrators or accomplices."

"Personally, a long and thorny path led me from being a naïve young woman who intuitively took it for granted that it was just common sense to be against abortion, who would never have even dreamed that one day she could become herself a victim and perpetrator of an abortion against her own child – to being injured, wounded, and raped by abortion. And since my abortion almost 17 years ago, I have had to travel another rocky road to reach an awareness of what was done with and to me and my unborn child. A road that has led over the deep “potholes” scooped out by unconscious, but then later conscious, painful grief over the killing of a child – to a commitment to the right of unborn children to survival."

"I am convinced that all those who want to 'decriminalize' abortion call for the police when someone merely steals their car radio. Is their car radio more valuable and worthier of protection than a child?"

"I can assure you that even a single mother is strong enough to live with her children, the bodily and/or non-bodily ones. Not every woman is, or can become, so strong that she can make it alone. But 'helping' a woman who is 'expecting' an 'unexpected' child by 'helping' her to kill it is insane.

Abortion’s 'spiral of death' cost me many years of my life. Instead of ridding me of problems, it stole several years from me, robbed me of energy, and created new problems for me.

I have often been told that I am a 'strong woman.' This drivel about the 'strong woman' has often infuriated me, because I was not born a 'strong woman.' Killing and denying do not make you 'strong.' Killing makes you weak. Children are a challenge, and challenges force us to struggle, to train and develop our capacities. But we need help.

Help to say yes to life."


I agree with nearly every word she says, and still I do not believe the problem is solved by criminalization.


I mean, she's saying "I had an abortion and I regret it to the bottom of my soul. I now believe it was a criminal act and I wish that in my ignorant, brainwashed state I had been put in prison for doing it. Of course that didn't happen to me, but I now want it to happen to every young woman who is as blind and ignorant as I was." Go and wake up those young women. Or go serve the jail term you think you ought to have had, if you believe that's the solution.

The single most powerful preventive of abortion will be if women achieve the self-confidence and dignity not to be desperate for men's approval.


The pro-life movement does not propose putting the mother in jail; only the doctor. This is often used against us to claim that we really don't think abortion is so wrong if we won't insist on putting the mother in jail. We just can't win.

Back to Huckabee and the right to life amendment. A right to life amendment would bring the Constitution into harmony with the Declaration of Independence, which asserts the "unalienable" right to life. The "unalienable right to life" means that all human life has a right to continue in its existence and this right cannot be taken away without due process of law. As the law stands today, abortion contradicts the "unalienable" right to life.

The best stated, and consensus, goal of the pro-life movement is stated as follows:

"Every unborn child protected in law, and welcomed in life."

I cannot prove it, but I believe Father Richard John Neuhaus crafted the foregoing statement and also prevailed upon George Bush to adopt it. Both politically and intellectually it is the best statement of the pro-life position. The statement balances the need to both protect the child and to love the child.


I should say, rather, that the statement conveys the need not only to protect the child, but to love the child -- for all of us to love each other.

Peter Hoh

So Dan, how does it feel to have the GOP courting your vote but not really doing anything about abortion?


Peter, not as bad as it feels to be abandoned by the Democratic Party. I don't really consider myself a Republican. Like many pro-lifers, I feel politically homeless.

Your question brings to mind a funny story, funny to me in any event. My wife took my two sons to a doctor's office at Cedars Sinai, which is in a very liberal part of Los Angeles (it actually may be in West Hollywood, I'm not sure). My sons are not yet in middle school and are just now getting interested in politics. While in the doctor's waiting room surrounded by West LA moms, they got into a discussion in unmodulated voices about the party affiliations of the various Presidential candidates and had the following exchange:

Son #1: "Is Hilary Clinton a Democrat or a Republican?"

Son #2: "I think she's a Republican."

Son #1: "No, she's for abortion, she must be a Democrat."

Son #2: "Oh, that's right, Bush is against abortion and he's a Republican."

Son #1: "Bush saaaayyyys he against abortion but he never does anything about it."

I wasn't there but my wife says the horror emenating from the other moms was palpable.

Ruth Anne

Peter Hoh: The things done about abortion began with the Hyde Amendment [R]. The pro-life movement continued with unsuccessful-at-first legislation, leading up to partial birth abortion ban [R], defunding overseas abortions [R - Bush 43], appointing pro-life Supreme Court justices [Bush 43 with Alito, Roberts; Bush 41 with Thomas, and Reagan 40 with Scalia]. What have pro-life democrats accomplished on the national level? They're not even allowed to speak at their party's convention.

Oops. Looks like Dan is beating me to the reply.


I just came across this news story, which is pertinent to the discussion I think. The story is about the first woman fighter pilot in the French military (the story mentions that her last name is Aigle, which is French for "eagle"!). She is another woman to whom Jason will want to listen and who, by demonstrating what love and true life are, also rebuts in dramatic fashion the claim that the pro-life movement is "anti-life."

"From fighter pilot to courageous mother: the story of Caroline Aigle

Paris, Sep 26, 2007 / 01:17 pm (CNA).- Caroline Aigle would have turned 33 on September 12. The first female fighter pilot of the French military and future astronaut died of cancer on August 21. The country is still mourning her death and continues to be moved by her sacrifice: she was five months pregnant when she learned she had cancer and she chose to postpone her treatment so her baby could be born.

In mid-July Caroline received the devastating news. Rather than despairing, she faced the adversity and ignored doctors who advised her to have an abortion.

Together with her husband Christophe Deketelaere, who is also a pilot, she decided to give this new member of her family a chance to live. Her second son was born three and a half months premature at the beginning of August and doctors say he is progressing well.

In an interview Christophe said, "She could not stop the life she had carried for five months. She told me: 'He has the right to have the same chances I had'." Her husband said that her pregnancy was 'her final battle and she won.' Before dying, she was able to see her son several times and hold him in her arms. 'She was heroic to the end,' he said.

Caroline Aigle (which means 'eagle') was born in Montauban in 1974. At the age of 14 she entered the military school of Saint-Cyr. In May of 1999 she became a fighter pilot and flew a Mirage 2000-5.

Her funeral was celebrated by Father Pierre Demoures, a former fighter pilot himself. In his homily, he remembered Caroline as someone who led people to Christ with 'her qualities, kindness, willingness, passion,' and he praised her for choosing to give life to her son, for whom she 'postponed a treatment that was urgent.'

Father Demoures recalled that when Carolina and Christophe sought him out for marriage preparation, they asked him for a book that spoke not about the love of one for the other, 'but rather about the love that opens us to love others.'

'The great lesson that Carolina gives us is the urgency to love. Not the urgency to fear, but the vital urgency to know that only love gives life. Man is made for life. This urgency can make love stronger and give life to a treasure amidst the most tragic events,' Father Demoures said."


It is hard to make pro-choicers understand this, but what the pro-life movement is about at its deepest, most basic level is love. Love not just for the unborn child but for both mother and child. Love of and for life.

The failure of the two contending sides to understand each other derives from a differing understanding of what love is. We believe love is, ultimately, sacrifce. The death of Christ on the cross is the ultimate act of love. We die willingly for those we love. Father Pavone has observed that the mantra of the abortion rights movement is "This is my body" -- the very same words that Christ used, except that Christ added "given up for you." So, as Father Pavone puts it, the two sides come at the issue of abortion from opposite ends of the universe.

Father Pavone also notes that the abortion rights side says that there is a conflict between love for the child and love for the mother while the pro-life side believes that you cannot separate the two. I think this is very true.

Tom Strong


That is a pro-choice story. The woman in the story made a choice to sacrifice herself. You would take that choice away.


Then great Tom. Let's see NARAL and Planned Parenthood post the story on their website and open up a discussion about what the implications of her heroic "choice" are -- namely the importance of protecting the unborn child and the surpassing value and importance of a mother's love for her child. Once they realize this, they should conclude, if they are honest with themselves, that is time to close up shop.

At the technical level, I believe that the Church teaches that a mother's necessary medical treatment that has the probable but not intended consequence of killing the unborn child is licit and I presume that any anti-abortion law would provide the same thing. So you are wrong to say that I would take away "choice" in this situation.

Tom Strong


I'm pleased to hear you would not remove her choice - though I wonder why, if creating more love in the world is your aim, why you would remove that choice from women in different circumstances.

As a pro-choice person, I would love to see NARAL and Planned Parenthood have just the discussion you suggest. It would be a bold move on their part. But I don't think such a dialogue would necessarily lead to the pat conclusion you offer.

Indeed, the core implication that I see in the story is that love must always be born of of free will. And therefore, using the law to try and force pregnant women to give birth will not create more love in the world.


The difference is that cancer treatment that seeks to cure the mother but unavoidably kills the child is not the intentional killing of a child.

I am not proposing that the law should compel anyone to love anyone. I fully agree that is not an appropriate function of the law and would be beyond silly. I propose only that the law protect the child from being intentionally killed.

Tom Strong

Then why choose the story you chose? Why make the claim that the pro-life stance is moved entirely by love?

Our laws against killing have nothing to do with love. They simply make it more possible for people who do _not_ love one another to still function as part of the same society.


The story shows what life and love are. That has legal pro-life legal implications but changing the pro-life movement's position on what is and is not licit medical treatment is not one of them.


If I may add my two cents to the discussion - I am new to this group! - the original post is about something much bigger than abortion pros and contras: it made me think why a politician who expresses belief in the "free society" is so ready to take away all and any freedom from anybody but himself. Sad, really.


Dan, no one mentions a little item that almost escapes notice in that heroic story: this was the woman's second child. She had another young son, likely young enough to need his mother if at all possible.

If the treatment had a chance of working, I can imagine a mother who chose to have the treatment in a timely manner, not out of her own selfish greed for life, but so she could continue to be a mother to the young child she already had for as long as possible.

No one mentions that. It is the reason why I keep saying that life is not quite that simple. And why many people say that the pro-life are obsessed with the life and the love of the unborn child, less so with those who are already born.

Ruth Anne

She loved her first son enough to give him a sibling. Now he can grow up and tell his little brother all about the mother who loved them both as she was physically able.


I'm not denying that, Ruth Anne, I'm saying that another mother might have weighted the decision towards his needing a mother more than a sibling. A lot depends on the odds of the treatment working. If it was a long shot and she was probably not going to make it anyway, then that would incline her all the more toward at least sending that child into life. But if she had a condition that was treatable, and fatal if not treated, and she chose not to treat it, to orphan her existing children to give life to the new one, would you still feel she was purely heroic?

It seems as if pro-lifers have latched onto one dimension of life precisely because it can be cast in either-or terms.



it made me think why a politician who expresses belief in the "free society" is so ready to take away all and any freedom from anybody but himself.
Laws often limit the liberty of some as necessary to protect the liberty of others. If one believes that the unborn child is a human life, it ceases to be a simple question of "choice" and women's freedom - which woman's freedom, the mother's or the daughter's? Preserving the mother's choice eliminates all the unborn daughter's (or son's) choices. The pro-choice caricature of pro-lifers as being opposed to women's freedom is wrong, unhelpful, and sophomoric.

Abortion is much more akin - qua an "issue" - to slavery than to prohibition, and on my glummer days, I wonder if this issue - which is wholly intractable - will eventually destroy the United States. The issue will never go away, and the heat may not dissipate even after Roe's demise - the shoe will simply be on the other foot. One side or another may eventually prevail in amending the Constitution, and when that happens, I can honestly see the country breaking apart if the losing side - whichever side that may be - feels there is no hope to overturn the amendment.


Ugh. To amend the Constitution as means to force religious views on everyone is as disgusting an idea as murder. Abortion is battled because people believe in souls. Amazing that the same belief doesn't put women in jail for miscarrying because they partied too much, or didn't eat right, or didn't exercise, or whatever. Seems abortion and miscarriage are intimate cousins. Why the difference? Let's jail every woman who miscarries until we're sure she did absolutely everything to avoid the dilemma. And medical treatment, incest, rape, and other excuses should be disregarded. That's not enough, right? (Please, note extreme sarcasm.)

Roe's demise? Let's hope not, Simon. I can't argue the merits of abortion based on necessity or considerations as I can never fully comprehend such things, but I can argue on the debate itself: Why are so many men intent on controlling and manipulating that which they can never experience, never understand, never truly appreciate? Let it be legal and leave it to women to face the issue with whatever personal support they have. Leave the question of souls for churches to discuss in Sunday sermons. Let the rest fall by the wayside as so much gibberish.


I agree with of Simon's comments for the most part. I take issue with the reference to one's "belief" that the unborn child is human life. This is not a "belief." It is a hard, cold scientific fact.

I also disagree that the there is precise equivalence in the degree to which the abortion issue is non-negotiable. It is absolutely true that it is completely non-negotiable for Catholics and, more generally, the pro-life movement. We will never, ever compromise the issue. It is an impossibility. How can one compromise with evil without losing one's soul? I personally feel that abortion is an issue that calls for martyrdom in the sense that I would forfeit my life before I renounced my commitment to the pro-life cause.

However, the same dynamic cannot be said to exist on the pro-choice side. Who really is ready to lay down their life to guarantee that women can kill unborn children? Even many pro-choicers think it would be a good thing if abortion were no more. I realize of course that feminists think it would unduly cramp their style if they couldn't kill off their unborn children and are fervently committed to abortion. But that is not on par with the commitment that is inspired by the good, true and just.

There is no plausible end game for the pro-choice vision. By all rights, the pro-life movement should have been stamped out 30 years ago. In the 1970s the powers that be -- the judicial system, the press and other media, the universities, the philanthrophic instituions -- all said "o.k., that's it, the debate is over, abortion is now acceptable." Even large segments of Protestant Christianity were getting on board. The only holdouts were the Church and the over-arching conscience of the people. They said: "No, this is wrong, this cannot be swept under the rug." And it couldn't be, despite all the best efforts of "best and the brightest." Opposition to abortion won't go away because it is based on the truth. It is impossible to suppress the truth. Christ said he would be with the Church until the end of time and thus far has kept his promise. The pro-choice side is betting against Christ. In my judgment, it's a bad bet.

Tom Strong

I realize of course that feminists think it would unduly cramp their style if they couldn't kill off their unborn children and are fervently committed to abortion.

Now that's love for you.


Jason, you say that you hope against Roe's demise, and add "[l]et [abortion] be legal and leave it to women to face the issue with whatever personal support they have," as if these two things are in tension. Overruling Roe won't make abortion illegal (which is why there are no reliance interests, one of the principal factors in stare decisis, that counsel against overruling the case), it merely creates the possibility for a democratic debate - one in which your side, I might add, is likely to prevail to a greater extent than is mine.


As much as I agree that human life is human life and nothing else from the very beginning, there is something a little bit insane about equating abortion with murder. The fact is that adult human beings do have the power to nip a human life in the bud, before it is fully formed and sentient, and that they (women, in particular, sometimes at men's insistence) have always exercised that very fraught and chancy and indeed terrible power for a broad spectrum of reasons, stretching well beyond careerism and convenience, long before there was feminism, from social shame to economic hardship to the mother's health or the health of already living children. For some women it is an irresponsible act, for some it is part of a struggle to be responsible. To give a new embryo the moral status of a fully formed human being is an ideal to strive toward, but to give it that legal status seems to me crazy -- totalitarian idealism.

I would like to see abortion, as a means of limiting family size somewhat less barbaric than the old tradition of infanticide but far more barbaric (even on the Catholic scale) than contraception, made nearly unnecessary. I would wish to see women become so enlightened as to shun it fearfully. I would wish to see people stop using sex as a form of "free" (not) entertainment and an engine of commerce. (I'm not likely to get that wish.) I believe that the means to achieve all this is through education. If you read about deeply Catholic societies where abortion is illegal -- there was another story I remember about Chile and I can't find it, but this will do, although you'll no doubt dismiss its statistic because of their sources. But the results are barbaric. Catholic Latin America, where abortion is most likely to be illegal, has some of its highest rates in the world.


Amba, the use of the word "totalitarian" serves only to convey your subjective fears; it does not correspond to any reality and as such in my opinion is not an appropriate word to use in this discussion (but it's your blog!). It seems too obvious to have to say, but what you call "totalitarian" was the law up to the late 1960s when some decriminalization began. Were we a "totalitarian" state when we fought Nazi Germany? When a democracy enacts a law that seeks to protect the lives of the weakest and most defenseless among us, I do not call that "totalitarian," I call it "humane." (I think perhaps you have been reading too much Naomi Wolff.)

You say we have the "power" to "nip human life in the bud." Of course we have that power. What we don't have is the right. We have the power to "nip" human life at all its other stages. The issue isn't what we can do, the issue is what we should do.

You say there always has been abortion, but that proves nothing about whether it is right or wrong. There always has been child abuse too. And until Christianity prevailed, there always had been slavery.

You are right that I don't trust the statistics (the allegedly non-existent abortion industry presently is engaged in a sustained, and dishonest, push to legalize abortion in Latin America and in the U.S. has lied outrageously about both the pre-Roe incidence of abortion and the pre-Roe death rate from illegal abortion) but they wouldn't change my mind if they were true. Abortion is not evitable. Every abortion is an abortion that should not happen.

You cite "social shame" and "economic hardship" as justifications for abortion. Is it right for a woman to have her baby killed because the baby is the result of something shameful that she did? Is it right to for a woman to have a baby killed because the baby will take economic resources away from her and her family? What I find shameful is that in America today -- the richest society in the history of the world -- we are hearing that we must kill unborn children because we can't afford to take care of them. That is shameful.



I haven't read any Naomi Wolf in years. I can't even make it through an article.

It's this "have a baby killed" bull that I find dishonest. It is not yet a "baby." (If it's a "baby" then you could call me a "young girl," or for that matter a "dead body.") It will be. Nor is it ever a disorganized blob as pro-choicers like to pretend. It's a zygote and an embryo before it is a fetus. At its earliest stages it cannot be sentient the way we understand it. As its nervous system develops it becomes steadily more sentient and I have no doubt that in the second trimester it can feel pain.

"Humane" is about the prevention of suffering. People in the middle on this issue (where most people are) instinctively sense that a very early embryo is different from even a later fetus in that it cannot yet "suffer," and that it cannot feel robbed of the life ahead of it. (Since the existence of the soul cannot be proven or disproven, it's beyond the purview of the law.) That's why "nipping in the bud" is different from murder, although they are on a continuum. This is a difference of degree that for practical reasons, as only zealots can deny, becomes a difference of kind in law.

In fact I think that more violence is done to the order of things and to the morale and sensitivity of the living by early abortion than to the "innocent baby." It's not that I don't feel pity for the vulnerable embryo, but it's not pity for fear, pain and suffering. It's something else.

I agree with of Simon's comments for the most part. I take issue with the reference to one's "belief" that the unborn child is human life. This is not a "belief." It is a hard, cold scientific fact.

I'd be interested in seeing that research and reviewed material, Dan. On the contrary, we don't consider eggs to be full chickens, do we? We don't consider caviar to be fish, do we? So where did you find such undeniable science? I know a great many biologists who also want to know.

Simon: Democratic debates are not the end of the discussion, nor are they altogether important or binding. Shall we talk slavery, segregation, anti-miscegenation, suffrage, or a great many other issues where a "democratic majority" wished for the opposite of what happened? Let me rely wholly on Thomas Jefferson in this regard: "All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate which would be oppression."


Amba, when my wife first became pregnant I was far away from the Church, had only the vaguest notions about abortion, and was completely uninterested in the issues that we are now discussing. Yet from the earliest point in the pregnancy, we referred to our twins as "the babies." We saw them in the ultrasound pictures (which we still have), and we named them. I guess according to you this was somehow "dishonest."

"Baby" is a just a word. We all know what the facts are. The issue is: does human life have intrinsic value that transcends its functionality. For many, many reasons it is critically important that we answer this question "yes."

The law already recognizes all kinds of distinctions for killing, and even excuses some entirely (such as killing in self-defense). Distinctions are to be made for abortion but that doesn't mean it should be legal.

(The remark about Naomi Wolff was a joke.)

Jason, it's high school biology that life begins at conception.


Also, I would add, that if an embryo was destined to remain an embryo and never grow, I might agree with you that is not so wrong to kill it. But that's not the case. Killing an embryo is in one significant respect worse than killing a 10 year old child. The 10 year old at least was given 10 additional years of life.


Well, talking about "unborn children" might be seeing as dishonest since it takes one part of the reality and expands it too far - where it just cannot stretch. Lump of cells a week after conception is not a child; if we go this way, we will sooner or later start treating every unfertilized egg dissolving in a uterus as a killing. Where will it all end? Can we make a distinction between what is only a possibility of becoming a child under favorable conditions - and what is actually a viable human baby?
By the way, all this talk about evil feminists who enjoy having abortions is rather childish...


Dan, the difference is that the 10-year-old knows he has a life to lose.

The point at which our rather horrifying power is exercised is the point at which we either name an embryo and welcome it into the human community or sort of obliterate it mentally before erasing it physically. (I'm sure that seeing an ultrasound would make that a lot more difficult.) I think the latter is more "dishonest" than the former. But you called them "babies" in anticipation, the way parents in their 80s call offspring in their 50s and 60s their "children" in retrospect. It's a description of a relationship, not a stage of development.

It is wonderful that despite being "far from the church" you had already placed yourself in a position to want and welcome your "babies." You just can't force that situation on people who aren't in it, for whatever complex of reasons. You can influence them. You can be an example for them.

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