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 Should protests outside abortion clinics be allowed? 
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Please read past the third paragraph to the end before responding

This is a massively complex issue which personally I don't think can be discussed very well in any public forum because there is a general willingness on the part of all parties to consider the position of those they disagree with, and in particular, recognise the ultimate arbitrary nature of any given position because all can be justified in some manner along the continuim of pro-life to pro-abortion.

I find that religion also comes into this discussion far too much because the primary arguements put forth by the religious pro-life side can also be advanced from a purely secular perspective, namely the premise that an individual considers human life to be precious. Therefore we shouldn't dismiss the pro-life position out of hand simply because it's often held by the religious given that the justification for their position isn't endemic to the religious.

Moving onto the practice of protesting outside of abortion clinics itself I can't help but wonder if the views of those opposed to these protests would also oppose such protests it if it was young children being brought into a clinic to be euthenised because the parents were unable to look after the children or simply didn't want them anymore. I am confident that under such circumstances they wouldn't oppose them and no doubt many would feel the need to join in the protests against what most would consider the adhorrent crime of murdering a child irrespective of the reasons offered by the parents and pro-child euthenasia supporters.

Therefore the issue is not so much the manner by which they are protesting but the degree by which we feel it's justified. Personally I feel that abortion is a massively complex and difficult subject to the point where I'm hesistant to come to any firm position but am generally inclined towards pro-choice where the mothers health is threatened, the child's quality of life will be massively reduced through disease or development problems, and before development has reached a certain point in the earlier stages of development.

Therefore from my perspective I don't like the thought of women, and any partner male or female going with them, being subject to protests during what must a very difficult time emotionally and physically, certainly not a decision I would ever want to make or live with if I was a woman. As such I don't believe that it's justified.

On the other hand I can see why they feel their actions of justified.

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October 19th, 2011, 8:39 pm
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Quote:
Trickle
namely the premise that an individual considers human life to be precious.
But a 20 weeks old fetus isn't a human life, is it? It's 100% reliant on the mother for survival.
Quote:
Moving onto the practice of protesting outside of abortion clinics itself I can't help but wonder if the views of those opposed to these protests would also oppose such protests it if it was young children being brought into a clinic to be euthenised because the parents were unable to look after the children or simply didn't want them anymore.
Are you having a laugh?
There is a difference (even if you can't grasp it) between an embryo and a child.

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October 19th, 2011, 10:45 pm
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Alan C. wrote:
Quote:
Trickle
namely the premise that an individual considers human life to be precious.
But a 20 weeks old fetus isn't a human life, is it? It's 100% reliant on the mother for survival.
but then so is a newborn baby pretty well 100% so dependent; one has been born, the other has not been born, that's the difference
Alan C. wrote:
Quote:
Moving onto the practice of protesting outside of abortion clinics itself I can't help but wonder if the views of those opposed to these protests would also oppose such protests it if it was young children being brought into a clinic to be euthenised because the parents were unable to look after the children or simply didn't want them anymore.
Are you having a laugh? There is a difference (even if you can't grasp it) between an embryo and a child.

well I agree with Alan that there is not much point putting up some completely inconceivable analogy like euthanising healthy babies as an argument. But while there is a big difference between an embryo and a child, there is a lot less difference between a developed foetus and a child


October 19th, 2011, 11:27 pm
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animist wrote:
Alan C. wrote:
Quote:
Trickle
namely the premise that an individual considers human life to be precious.
But a 20 weeks old fetus isn't a human life, is it? It's 100% reliant on the mother for survival.
but then so is a newborn baby pretty well 100% so dependent; one has been born, the other has not been born, that's the difference


I would argue that the objective physiological difference is that one gets its nutrients via its mouth and oxygenates its blood through the process of breathing; the other does both via an umbilicus. That, to my way of thinking, defines two very distinct types of reliance/dependence.

Of course these are knotty moral issues; there is often no absolutely objective right or wrong. I would argue that, in such instances, each person has to make a decision for herself as to when and if an abortion is the right thing to do. For the rest of us, the responsible thing to do is to respect that decision (and maybe be thankful that we didn't have to make it). However, irresponsibility is not, per se, a crime.

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October 20th, 2011, 9:02 am
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Alan C. wrote:
Quote:
Trickle
namely the premise that an individual considers human life to be precious.
But a 20 weeks old fetus isn't a human life, is it? It's 100% reliant on the mother for survival.
Quote:
Moving onto the practice of protesting outside of abortion clinics itself I can't help but wonder if the views of those opposed to these protests would also oppose such protests it if it was young children being brought into a clinic to be euthenised because the parents were unable to look after the children or simply didn't want them anymore.
Are you having a laugh?
There is a difference (even if you can't grasp it) between an embryo and a child.


I do not see why the level of dependence on a mother bears any relevence to whether not a fetus should be considered human or not. This is something of an arbitrary means of drawing a line between what should be considered human and what shouldn't which, in line with my previous comment that all positions can have arguements put forward to justify them, is simply a convinient constuct for those who wish to draw the line at their prefered point in development.

The actual real purpose of my comparison between having an abortion and euthenasing young children which appears to have missed by all those who have commented on it. I was not saying that an embryo or child were the same thing which should have been apparant given my preference for abortion only to be permitted up to a certain point in development, assuming other factors don't arise, which I would be unlikely to specifiy if I didn't feel that there were differences between a embryo and fetus, let alone an embryo and young child.

The point I was making was that in regards to the protesting, the topic of this thread, judgement of their behaviour is judged on the basis of how justified an individual feels it would be to oppose abortion. I chose an extreme example because I was reasonably confident that most forum users would be opposed to euthenasia of young children, not because I considered it to be equal to abortion of a fetus. The pro-lifer views any ending of life after conception to sufficient justification for an approach to protesting which others amongst the pro-choice or pro-abortion groups would only extend to a young child.

Tetenterre has the right of it when he says that there is no objective right or wrong answer to this question although I question his view that under such circumstances, which surely apply to most if not all moral judgements, that the appropriate course of action to take is to leave it up for the mother to decide. We do not generally invest power of judge and jury into the hands of a single individual which to my mind what this amounts too. There must be checks and balances in place to protect those subject to any judgement made where it's felt that such protection is warranted, hence why I believe that other considerations aside abortions shouldn't be permitted beyong a certain point of development which is determined, in part, on the study of fetal development.

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October 20th, 2011, 8:18 pm
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Tetenterre wrote:
I would argue that the objective physiological difference is that one gets its nutrients via its mouth and oxygenates its blood through the process of breathing; the other does both via an umbilicus. That, to my way of thinking, defines two very distinct types of reliance/dependence.
they are distinct, but why does this make the moral case different? Surely it is not the degree of dependence but the degree of development (especially of the nervous system) which is the crucial criterion for moral consideration


October 20th, 2011, 10:55 pm
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40 Days for Life have announced on their London blog that on Saturday they are going to do a big demonstration outside a BPAS clinic in Stratford. They are distributing a letter to Muslims which begins:

Quote:
Dear Muslims,

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) has opened a new abortion facility in Stratford (Newham/East London), in order to kill more unborn children through abortion. Newham already has the HIGHEST abortion rate in England and Wales! It is ethnic minorities (especially Muslims and Asians) and the poor that will be worse affected by the establishment of more extra "killing fields" for abortion! [...] (see here)


What should we make of this letter? Something about it makes me deeply uncomfortable. I do not mean just the usual anti-abortion references to "killing fields" etc... I also mean the way it gives out an impression that Muslims, Asians and ethnic minorities are being somehow targetted by abortion clinics. It seems designed to exploit community tensions in order to advance a political agenda.

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October 21st, 2011, 12:21 am
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Trickle, I think your last two posts are excellent, and reflect some of my own concerns as well. It is wrong to present abortion as just a conflict between atheism and religion. Crucial principles are at stake. When does life begin? When (if at all) does the woman's right to control her body over-ride the right of the conception not to have its natural development interrupted? Just like you, I find abortion a very difficult issue. My own view, for what it is worth, is that abortion should be legal upto around 20 weeks, and only allowed after that in exceptional circumstances.

You offer a hypothetical (if extreme!!) example of what we would do if there was a clinic allowing parents to "euthanise" their young children. Yes, I must concede your point. If that was happening, I would indeed insist on my right to demonstrate outside the clinic. In fact, I would not entirely rule out the possibility of sabotaging the work of the clinic through illegal means, if I believed they would be effective and justified. Yes, I can see where the other side on the abortion debate are coming from, but I also believe they are terribly, terribly wrong.

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October 21st, 2011, 12:40 am
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Skyfrog wrote:
Trickle, I think your last two posts are excellent, and reflect some of my own concerns as well. It is wrong to present abortion as just a conflict between atheism and religion. Crucial principles are at stake. When does life begin? When (if at all) does the woman's right to control her body over-ride the right of the conception not to have its natural development interrupted? Just like you, I find abortion a very difficult issue. My own view, for what it is worth, is that abortion should be legal upto around 20 weeks, and only allowed after that in exceptional circumstances.

You offer a hypothetical (if extreme!!) example of what we would do if there was a clinic allowing parents to "euthanise" their young children. Yes, I must concede your point. If that was happening, I would indeed insist on my right to demonstrate outside the clinic. In fact, I would not entirely rule out the possibility of sabotaging the work of the clinic through illegal means, if I believed they would be effective and justified. Yes, I can see where the other side on the abortion debate are coming from, but I also believe they are terribly, terribly wrong.


Thank you for taking the time to read and understand my position Skyfrog.

In regards to your 20 week limit how did you decide on this particular point in development? I know that in regards to medical science it represents the limit of our ability to keep premature babies alive although the odds of success are quite low and surviving babies can have problems later on in life.

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October 21st, 2011, 7:02 pm
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Trickle
In regards to your 20 week limit how did you decide on this particular point in development?
I'd also like to know how you reconcile this "cut off point"? I'm assuming you don't believe in life at conception then?

If a woman in Australia, Italy, or Canada, wants an abortion: for whatever reason, who are you or I to try and intervene?
It's not our business or the business of any "organised religion" so best if we [and them] kept out of it.

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October 21st, 2011, 11:38 pm
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I am inclined to support a cut-off point at around 20 weeks because premature babies are beginning to survive at around that age, and with medical advances, we can reasonably hope that more will do so in the future. It is a complicated issue, though, and I can respect the argument for keeping the limit at 24 weeks. What makes lowering the abortion limit particularly difficult is that some of the women wanting later-term abortions are in the most personally desperate situations.

Alan C wrote:
I'm assuming you don't believe in life at conception then?


You may recall that I am a Deist (believe in God, but not in traditional religions etc.). When does a life become a life? Frankly, I do not know. There is a tempting simplicity in the argument that personhood is attained upon conception, but there are difficulties with that position. Lots of conceptions are naturally aborted or miscarried out of the body anyway without the woman even realising it. Would God really create so many lives just to see them ended at such a premature stage?

From my perspective, ethicists need to look at the science of fetus development and use that in weighing up the desirability of the woman being autonomous over her own body versus the desirability of not interrupting the development process of a human being. Choosing a cut-off period may not be an exact science, but it is necessary if we are to have any kind of legal solution to these situations.

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October 22nd, 2011, 12:11 am
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Skyfrog wrote:
I am inclined to support a cut-off point at around 20 weeks because premature babies are beginning to survive at around that age, and with medical advances, we can reasonably hope that more will do so in the future. It is a complicated issue, though, and I can respect the argument for keeping the limit at 24 weeks. What makes lowering the abortion limit particularly difficult is that some of the women wanting later-term abortions are in the most personally desperate situations.


Personally, and this is something I need to research more fully before offering a time in weeks, I'd set the cut-off point where there there is evidence that a fetus is exibiting signs of consciouness. I don't feel that the point at which a baby can survive being born premature is a sufficiently significant factor in determing whether, during a normal pregnancy, a fetus can be aborted or not because as far as I'm aware this only reflects the degree by which a fetus's life-support mechanisms, lungs etc..., have developed rather than if it could be potentially conscious.

As medical science advances and is better able to compensate for underdeveloped systems in a premature baby we may see them surviving considerably earlier than they currently do, perhaps to the point where it's not even neccessary for a women to be involved beyond providing an ovum. That in itself would pose a serious ethical challenge to abortion because any baby created this way could only be done so intentionally and short of development or genetic defects which would impact on the quality of life I don't believe that aborting a fetus under such circumstances could be justified.

The mother and their circumstances, when development or genetic problems aren't considered, provide the primary motivation for abortion. When it comes to late stage abortions I personally feel that there needs to be an extremely good reason because the mother has had quite some time to decide whether or not they wanted to keep the baby and there reaches a point where the rights of the developing fetus have to be acknowledged.

On an emotional level part of my opposition to late-stage abortions is that when the pregnancy was the consequence of an informed decision and the fetus was allowed to develop to the later stages, for the mother to then decide to have an abortion amounts an abdication of responsibility towards that fetus. I simply don't feel that it's acceptable, in the absence of a compelling reason, to abdicate resposibility when it becomes inconvenient, especially when that responsibility is a well developed fetus.

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October 22nd, 2011, 1:09 am
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animist wrote:
Tetenterre wrote:
I would argue that the objective physiological difference is that one gets its nutrients via its mouth and oxygenates its blood through the process of breathing; the other does both via an umbilicus. That, to my way of thinking, defines two very distinct types of reliance/dependence.
they are distinct, but why does this make the moral case different? Surely it is not the degree of dependence but the degree of development (especially of the nervous system) which is the crucial criterion for moral consideration

Actually, I think the degree of dependence is morally significant.
At the point where the foetus can be nurtured by somebody other than the biological mother, it becomes our collective responsibility. Before that point, the biological mother is the only person whose life-choices are affected by the continued existence or othrwise of this foetus.
It is on this ground that I feel a woman's right to choose is undeniable..


October 22nd, 2011, 1:51 am
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thundril wrote:
Actually, I think the degree of dependence is morally significant.
At the point where the foetus can be nurtured by somebody other than the biological mother, it becomes our collective responsibility. Before that point, the biological mother is the only person whose life-choices are affected by the continued existence or othrwise of this foetus.
It is on this ground that I feel a woman's right to choose is undeniable..
so, to clarify what you mean, once the baby is born it can be adopted, and therefore is part of "collective responsibility"; and it therefore cannot be euthanised on the grounds that it is unwanted, whereas before this birth process, it cannot be adopted except as a future arrangement. Yet that seems to excessively socialise the moral status of something which, given that the timing of actual birth may be associated with all sorts of factors like the development of technology, simply exists either inside or outside the womb. Whether born or unborn, the foetus is what it is; and if it is not wanted by the mother, arrangements can in principle be made for its future. Premature babies are "really" still dependent on the mother yet kept alive by technology, but I assume that you would put them on the "sheep" side of this person/nonperson divide? And conversely, an overdue baby might be fully developed yet in principle not a "person"? Seems rather arbitrary to me


October 22nd, 2011, 8:40 am
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Trickle wrote:
(...) although I question his view that under such circumstances, which surely apply to most if not all moral judgements, that the appropriate course of action to take is to leave it up for the mother to decide. We do not generally invest power of judge and jury into the hands of a single individual which to my mind what this amounts too. There must be checks and balances in place to protect those subject to any judgement made where it's felt that such protection is warranted, hence why I believe that other considerations aside abortions shouldn't be permitted beyong a certain point of development which is determined, in part, on the study of fetal development.


I would suggest that a fully informed (and supported!) pregnant woman (please remember that she is not a mother until parturition) is the person who is best-placed to make these decisions. You say that a cut-off point should be determined "in part" by the stage of foetal development; two questions: What are the other parts? Precisely what point of foetal development do you suggest is the appropriate cut-off?


animist wrote:
Tetenterre wrote:
I would argue that the objective physiological difference is that one gets its nutrients via its mouth and oxygenates its blood through the process of breathing; the other does both via an umbilicus. That, to my way of thinking, defines two very distinct types of reliance/dependence.
they are distinct, but why does this make the moral case different? Surely it is not the degree of dependence but the degree of development (especially of the nervous system) which is the crucial criterion for moral consideration


I introduced the distinction as a response to what I inferred to be your contention that both foetus and neonate are 100% dependent but that the difference was unborn/born. I think, therefore, that the distinction is that the foetus is incapable, in its state prior to parturition, of independent life. Whether that makes a different moral case surely depends on an individual's system of morality? It doesn't make a difference in mine, but I'm not tee one faced with these bloody awful decisions.

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October 22nd, 2011, 4:09 pm
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Tetenterre wrote:
Trickle wrote:
(...) although I question his view that under such circumstances, which surely apply to most if not all moral judgements, that the appropriate course of action to take is to leave it up for the mother to decide. We do not generally invest power of judge and jury into the hands of a single individual which to my mind what this amounts too. There must be checks and balances in place to protect those subject to any judgement made where it's felt that such protection is warranted, hence why I believe that other considerations aside abortions shouldn't be permitted beyong a certain point of development which is determined, in part, on the study of fetal development.


I would suggest that a fully informed (and supported!) pregnant woman (please remember that she is not a mother until parturition) is the person who is best-placed to make these decisions. You say that a cut-off point should be determined "in part" by the stage of foetal development; two questions: What are the other parts? Precisely what point of foetal development do you suggest is the appropriate cut-off?


I question the pregnant womens right to have absolute authority over the fate of the foetus because the fetus should have some rights once it's reach a certain point in development and therefore be under the general protection of society rather than subject to the whims of the women carrying it until it's been born.

I also disagree that a pregnant women is the person best-placed to make these decisions because in other areas where women have to make decisions regarding the fate of their children they do not enjoy such absolute autonomy for the simple reason that it's recognised that they may not always be acting in the best interests of the child. I realise that a foetus isn't a child but neither is a foetus in the later stages of development an innatimate object which can be disposed of without consideration of it's rights to live. Yes the pregnant women wishes carry a great deal of weight when it comes to making the final decision but they shouldn't be the final word on the matter.

Those other considerations would include the circumstances of the pregnancy. For example was she raped, was she aware of the pregnancy before it reached the later stages, does the foetus have any genetic or development problems which would affect it's quality of life, is the pregnancy threatening the health of the women, is she capable of caring for the baby if it is allowed to come to full term, could anyone else be able to care for the baby if it was allowed to come to full term, what impact would adoption or life in care have on the quality of life of the baby. Thats just a few which spring to mind and which need to be taken into consideraton.

As for the stage in development I recognise that mine or anyone elses chosen point in development is largly arbitrary but as I've mentioned previously I would look towards when the foetus displays brain activity which could indicate consciousness. At this point I am inclined to consider that foetus as being sufficiently developed to be awarded additional protection, but not full status as a human being because there remains circumstances where abortion may be neccessary which would could legal problems over whether it is murder to abort a foetus which is classified legally as human.

Fundamentally where the desire to have an abortion boils down to a simple change of mind I do not view the point of birth as the watershed for whether or not we can terminate a foetus if the women doesn't want it anymore. There is a sliding scale from the point of conception to the moment of birth on which the developing zygote, embryo, fetus gradually changes from a collection of differentiated cells to something which is approaching being a human and therefore I believe that increasing protection should be awarded in tandem with this sliding scale.

I also believe that when a women makes an informed decision to have a baby she once it reaches the late stages of developent she should, unless there is a good reasons otherwise, see it through to the end. We all make informed choices in our lives and we have to live with the consequences of those choices, why should a pregnant women be any different? Having a baby is a big decision with big consequences, don't have one if you're not ready for one.

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October 22nd, 2011, 6:41 pm
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animist wrote:
thundril wrote:
Actually, I think the degree of dependence is morally significant.
At the point where the foetus can be nurtured by somebody other than the biological mother, it becomes our collective responsibility. Before that point, the biological mother is the only person whose life-choices are affected by the continued existence or othrwise of this foetus.
It is on this ground that I feel a woman's right to choose is undeniable..
so, to clarify what you mean, once the baby is born it can be adopted, and therefore is part of "collective responsibility"; and it therefore cannot be euthanised on the grounds that it is unwanted, whereas before this birth process, it cannot be adopted except as a future arrangement.

This isn't quite what I was thinking. Rather, I was exploring the question with two other thoughts in mind;
1. Considering the viability of the foetus, as it impinges on the rights of the pregnant woman, rather than the rights of the foetus itself.
2. The reponsibility of the collective (society) to develop moral values and morally consistent laws.
animist wrote:
Yet that seems to excessively socialise the moral status of something which, given that the timing of actual birth may be associated with all sorts of factors like the development of technology, simply exists either inside or outside the womb.

Yes. I think the foetus can be regarded as a person insofar as it is capable of existing as part of society. (This includes a capacity to exist as a person totally dependent on high-tech medical equipment and procedures.) If a foetus is only capable of existing as part of a woman's body, it is simply a part of that woman's body, and has no social status of its own. So ISTM that the position of the technically supportable foetus presents us collectively with the same moral questions that relate to any other person temporarily or permanently dependent on medical support.
In the case of a pregnancy, the societal question comes down to 'If we are not prepared collectively to take responsibility for this new person, then we collectively have no right to insist that the pregnant woman should do so alone'. In other words, it's her call.


October 22nd, 2011, 7:10 pm
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If anyone actually believes that a fetus is a human being, they have the freedom to not have an abortion. Personally I am more concerned with the number of babies and toddlers who are murdered in their cribs for crying. The number of crib deaths has risen all over the world.

All I can think of is more birth control for more women. Trying to cope with an unwanted pregnancy and an unwanted baby should be addressed along with abortions. In America abortions are legal and we worked for years on this position. Today the Republican Party in America wants to ban all birth control as well as abortions. The Party speaks as Christians and they could legislate themselves out of office in 2012.

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October 24th, 2011, 2:54 pm
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I have lots to sort out in my mind from the recent posts. I tend to agree with Trickle, but I want to say right now (while it's in my noddle) that one of the many problems regarding abortion as a moral issue is that it tends to get mixed up with the more general, and more important, issue of women's rights in relation to men. Sandra and Fia are clearly women, but I am guessing that the rest of us on the thread are men - correct?


October 24th, 2011, 7:23 pm
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Sandra Price wrote:
If anyone actually believes that a fetus is a human being, they have the freedom to not have an abortion. Personally I am more concerned with the number of babies and toddlers who are murdered in their cribs for crying. The number of crib deaths has risen all over the world.

All I can think of is more birth control for more women. Trying to cope with an unwanted pregnancy and an unwanted baby should be addressed along with abortions. In America abortions are legal and we worked for years on this position. Today the Republican Party in America wants to ban all birth control as well as abortions. The Party speaks as Christians and they could legislate themselves out of office in 2012.

Hello Sandra! What is the situation in the US right now? If the Republicans are determined to undo Roe v Wade, what measures are pro-choice people able to take to prevent them? I mean, is the increasingly loony God-freakery in the GOP symptomatic of a wider religious growth in the US currently, or is there any sign of the tide turning against them?


October 24th, 2011, 7:54 pm
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