Posted by: Ken Brown | January 21, 2009

Abortion, Infant Mortality and the Freedom of Choice Act

N. Adam left the following comment on my last post. Given that tomorrow is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I wanted to provide a full response here:

[I]t is rather curious how a site like the one you’ve linked to [here] can be so opposed to abortion and embryonic stem cell research on moral standing alone, yet (according to my google searches) have absolutely nothing meaningful to say about the horrible infant morality rate in the US and the fact that we have tens of millions of children [who] are currently without healthcare.

It’s a fair observation, and similar to the one Timothy Mills made a while back. As I responded to Timothy, there is a very clear distinction to be made between intentional and unintentional death, whereby it is hardly illegitimate to focus one’s primary attention on the former. But the issue is even clearer in this case. The site N. Adam refers to is specifically focused on a fighting a particular piece of legislation, the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), so it can hardly be blamed for failing to address issues not connected with FOCA, as infant mortality is not.

A more important question, then, is whether fighting FOCA itself is a worthwhile cause, or whether our time ought better to be spent fighting the “horrible” rate of infant mortality in the United States. Sadly, that is easily answered: the US infant mortality rate is the 28th worst in the world, more than twice as high as some other developed nations. In short, infant mortality (and the poor education and health care that contribute to it) absolutely should be a concern to all of us. Nevertheless, in the US this amounts to less than 28,000 deaths a year, whereas abortion currently takes 1,200,000 lives a year. I’m no math wiz, but I’m pretty sure 1.2 million is more than 28 thousand.

But that is only half the issue, for we are not talking about which of those numbers are more important to reduce; we are talking about a bill that would very likely increase the number of abortions performed in this country. If made law, FOCA would eliminate all state and local restrictions on abortion, including partial birth abortion bans, parental consent laws, waiting periods, and many other restrictions which have already been found constitutional by the Supreme Court. There is also concern that the bill might supersede the Hyde Amendment, which currently restricts federal funding for abortions, and many believe it would force religious health care providers (such as Catholic hospitals) to perform abortions or close their doors. In short, FOCA would reduce or eliminate all limitations on abortion, and would almost certainly increase the total number performed annually, as has been the case in those states, like Maryland, which have passed similar legislation (for fuller discussions of the likely impact of this legislation go here and here).

As a Senator, President Obama was a co-sponsor of the bill, and once vowed that “the first thing” he would do as President would be to sign it. Thus, while there are many things about Obama that I like, I am thankful that so far he has not kept that promise (in fact, I’m quite impressed by the legislation he did choose to sign first), and I sincerely pray that he is never able to do so.

To return to N. Adam’s observation, then, I do not find it the least bit curious that the site I linked should focus its attention squarely on abortion; it is, after all, called FightFOCA. But more fundamentally, I fail to see why it should seem strange that the pro-life movement generally focuses more attention on abortion than infant death, given that the US infant mortality rate is only 6.9 per 1000 live births, while the abortion rate is currently 19.4%, or about 194 per 1000 known pregnancies (the lowest rate since Roe v. Wade).

Now imagine you lived in a country where theft had been legal for 36 years, and because of this, pick-pocketing had become quite pervasive: 194 out of every 1000 people in this hypothetical country have their wallets stolen, while 7 out of every 1000 people lose their wallets by accident. Now imagine that various pro-Picking organizations argue vehemently that to outlaw the practice would not stop people from stealing; it would only make life more dangerous for those who choose to steal. This argument has convinced the Supreme Court of this hypothetical country, but various states within it have been unimpressed by the rhetoric and passed laws to limit theft where possible. Now imagine that these laws seem to be working–pickpocketing is at its lowest level since theft became legal, except in those few states which passed their own Freedom of Picking Acts, in which the rate of pickpocketing has continued to increase.

Now imagine the country elected a man who said “the first thing” he would do upon entering office would be to pass legislation to repeal all those local restrictions on theft and even force tax-payers and religious organizations to support the practice. Would you find it strange if a group of the citizens of that country formed an organization intent on fighting that new legislation? Would you find it odd if their website failed to devote equal attention to the 7 people per 1000 who lose their wallets accidentally, as they devote to the 194 people per 1000 who are robbed?

Don’t misunderstand me, I for one believe that a truly pro-life view absolutely must care as much about the born as the unborn (if not more). I’ve argued again and again that the current dichotomy over such issues is nothing but harmful. But no one that I know of is trying to make infant mortality “safe, legal and rare.” No one I know of wants to reduce health care for children. Unfortunately, our new President does want to eliminate state and local laws which reduce abortion, and I for one will not stand by and say nothing. I’m thankful that the 500,000 other signers of the FightFOCA petition feel the same.

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Responses

  1. A more important question, then, is whether fighting FOCA itself is a worthwhile cause, or whether our time ought better to be spent fighting the “horrible” rate of infant mortality in the United States. Sadly, that is easily answered: the US infant mortality rate is the 28th worst in the world, more than twice as high as some other developed nations. In short, infant mortality (and the poor education and health care that contribute to it) absolutely should be a concern to all of us. Nevertheless, in the US this amounts to less than 28,000 deaths a year, whereas abortion currently takes 1,200,000 lives a year. I’m no math wiz, but I’m pretty sure 1.2 million is more than 28 thousand.

    I also mentioned healthcare, which if you play the numbers game, (as though the percise rates and not the moral question were influencing your proirities) it would likely make 1.2 million look small in comparison. (Though it is probably less than twenty million. I was thinking about the poverty rate for children in the US.)

    Do forgive me. I neglected to visit all of the twenty or so links that you’ve taken the time to post. I do not want to get into another argument about
    abortion with you so the remainder of my response will be general.

    That a site made by those in the pro-life movement is abortion-centric only argues for my “fair observation” that those in said movement are more concerned about the the unborn than the born. It simply would not occur to some in the pro-life movement to argue for universal healthcare because of a misfortune in political alliances.

    Secondly, I reject wholesale your analogy to theft because, unlike theft, I do not think there is anything inheritly wrong about the right to choose. We’ve already had a discussion as to why.

  2. N. Adam,
    I also mentioned healthcare, which if you play the numbers game, (as though the percise rates and not the moral question were influencing your proirities) it would likely make 1.2 million look small in comparison….

    That a site made by those in the pro-life movement is abortion-centric only argues for my “fair observation” that those in said movement are more concerned about the the unborn than the born. It simply would not occur to some in the pro-life movement to argue for universal healthcare because of a misfortune in political alliances.

    America currently has 8.6 million uninsured children, and no one–and certainly not me–is denying that this is a tragedy and something that must be fixed. But I assume you do not dispute that death is the worst result of poor health care, and the more relevant comparison with abortion.

    More importantly, and as I tried to make clear, no one is trying to increase the number of children without health care, so there is understandably less pressing concern over that issue than FOCA, which is trying to make abortion more easily available, and thus increase its prevalence. Universal health care, we both agree, is a vital goal, but it is not one with a clear solution. FOCA is a single piece of legislation that would have an immediate and far-reaching negative impact. The site I linked is devoted solely to fighting that piece of legislation; it cannot be blamed for failing to fight every other problem in the world at the same time.

    I do not want to get into another argument about abortion with you so the remainder of my response will be general…. I reject wholesale your analogy to theft because, unlike theft, I do not think there is anything inheritly wrong about the right to choose. We’ve already had a discussion as to why.

    Leaving aside the moral question (like you said, we’ve argued that to death, so I wont rehash it here), my analogy does not depend on abortion being “inherently wrong,” only on it being less than ideal. Just as no one wants to lose their wallet (whether accidentally or by theft), no one wants to have an abortion. Even leaving aside the harm to the fetus, it is an invasive and painful procedure which can lead to sterility or even (on occasion) death.

    It is a simple fact that the laws FOCA would repeal have reduced the prevalence of abortion by a considerable margin, and those laws have been voted upon and approved by the states and upheld by the Supreme Court. FOCA is an attempt at an end-around, seeking to rescind by fiat what both the states and the court have deemed reasonable–things like parental notification (teens are not allowed to take aspirin without parental consent, but they should be able to have an abortion without it?) and 24 hour waiting periods (what other surgical procedure can you insist upon having the very hour you request it?). As the law currently stands, the voters of each state have the right to make these determinations themselves; FOCA would deny that right to the states.

    Moreover, you mentioned your commitment to “choice”; I’m curious, do you think Catholic hospitals should have a “choice” whether to perform abortions? FOCA may well deny them that right, which would almost certainly cause them to close their doors. How many children would have poorer health care then?

  3. Moreover, you mentioned your commitment to “choice”; I’m curious, do you think Catholic hospitals should have a “choice” whether to perform abortions? FOCA may well deny them that right, which would almost certainly cause them to close their doors. How many children would have poorer health care then?

    Truth be told, I did not know that a Catholic hospital could, as a matter of policy, refuse to do a medical procedure based on a limited moral stance in the first place. Could you imagine a Jehovah’s Witness hospital turning down treatment to victims of leukemia or a Christian Scientists hospital reducing a modern hospital in the US to a death-house like the one Mother Teressa oversaw in Calcutta? What about a Scientology hospital with no drugs for mental illness?

    And why exactly would the hospital have to close? I live in a state where a person is free to commit suicide if he should contract a terminal illness and, if anything, there are more hospitals–not less.

    But I assume you do not dispute that death is the worst result of poor health care, and the more relevant comparison with abortion.

    Again, I do not value a fetus or human embryo as a human life. But if I did, I would certainly find the rate of miscarriage vastly more troubling the rate of other abortion. How does one reconcile that, exactly?

    As the law currently stands, the voters of each state have the right to make these determinations themselves; FOCA would deny that right to the states.

    If I can make another observation about the pro-life/conservative movement: tyranny of “big government” does not end with the state. You have to understand that for someone like me, the only person that has the right to make a decision on behalf of one’s own body is the person that owns it.

  4. N. Adam,
    Truth be told, I did not know that a Catholic hospital could, as a matter of policy, refuse to do a medical procedure based on a limited moral stance in the first place. Could you imagine a Jehovah’s Witness hospital turning down treatment to victims of leukemia…

    Unlike treatment for leukemia (I assume you are referring to the JW rejection of blood transfusions?), abortion is nearly always an elective procedure, not a treatment for a disease, and there are already protections in place in the case of a life-threatening emergencies. As the law now stands, no doctor is forced to perform an elective abortion, and thankfully so. I assume you agree that no woman should be forced to have an abortion; do you really think a doctor should be forced to perform one, even if he or she believes doing so constitutes murder?

    To take a less extreme example: What would you say about a bill that forced all American hospitals to perform elective plastic surgery or give up their federal funding? Would you think that reasonable?

    And why exactly would the hospital have to close? I live in a state where a person is free to commit suicide if he should contract a terminal illness and, if anything, there are more hospitals–not less.

    Depending on the final wording of the bill, if FOCA passes, it could require that any institution receiving federal funds must agree to perform abortions. The Catholic church has unilaterally affirmed that it will not, under any circumstances, perform abortions. Since it is very unlikely that a modern hospital could afford to pay its bills without federal funding, if FOCA passes, Catholic hospitals will be forced to either perform abortions or close.

    You mentioned I-1000, which now allows doctors to proscribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients. I’m curious: do you think doctors should be forced to proscribe such medications?

    Again, I do not value a fetus or human embryo as a human life. But if I did, I would certainly find the rate of miscarriage vastly more troubling the rate of other abortion. How does one reconcile that, exactly?

    See this post.

    If I can make another observation about the pro-life/conservative movement: tyranny of “big government” does not end with the state. You have to understand that for someone like me, the only person that has the right to make a decision on behalf of one’s own body is the person that owns it.

    But of course, the whole issue comes down to whether a fetus is a person whose “right to make a decision on behalf of [their] own body” may be ignored or not. But we’ve agreed not to go there, eh?

  5. As the law now stands, no doctor is forced to perform an elective abortion, and thankfully so.

    An individual doctor refusing to do a procedure is one thing, but a hospital forcing doctors not to do a procedure is another. So, which is it?

    Depending on the final wording of the bill, if FOCA passes, it could require that any institution receiving federal funds must agree to perform abortions. The Catholic church has unilaterally affirmed that it will not, under any circumstances, perform abortions. Since it is very unlikely that a modern hospital could afford to pay its bills without federal funding, if FOCA passes, Catholic hospitals will be forced to either perform abortions or close.

    Well, therein lies the problem with faith-based institutions in the first place. A Prada-wearing pope can live in a palace (oversee millions of dollars settling child rape cases before becoming pope “allegedly”) but when it comes to funding, they are first in line for government hand-outs.

    That said, I find it very doubtful that with the prospect of universal healthcare, the total number of hospitals will decrease, don’t you?

  6. N. Adam,
    An individual doctor refusing to do a procedure is one thing, but a hospital forcing doctors not to do a procedure is another. So, which is it?

    You assume that those who work at Catholic hospitals disagree with their policy on this matter. In any case, you have ignored my question about the legitimacy, in general, of medical facilities determining for themselves what elective treatments they will offer.

    Well, therein lies the problem with faith-based institutions in the first place. A Prada-wearing pope can live in a palace (oversee millions of dollars settling child rape cases before becoming pope “allegedly”) but when it comes to funding, they are first in line for government hand-outs.

    Unsupported ad hominem attacks do not become you. It is a simple fact that the current health care system costs vastly more than any private institution can afford without help (even non-profits like all Catholic hospitals are).

    That said, I find it very doubtful that with the prospect of universal healthcare, the total number of hospitals will decrease, don’t you?

    Having lived for several years in Canada, where universal health care lead directly to a steep decline in level of service and the closing of many hospitals, I must disagree, nor do I think handing the problem over to the government will solve it (and I’m surprised you think it would, given your recent rejection of “big government”). More to the point, Catholic hospitals account for 15% of all hospital beds in America, so their closing would be no small matter.

  7. You assume that those who work at Catholic hospitals disagree with their policy on this matter.

    No, I do not. If anything, you assume that they do.

    It is a fact that Catholics in the United States are not the strictest of adherents. Many conservative Catholics support capital punishment and torture and many liberal Catholics support abortion rights and contraception. And everybody masturbates.

    In any case, you have ignored my question about the legitimacy, in general, of medical facilities determining for themselves what elective treatments they will offer.

    I am sorry if you felt that I had ignored you, but I had to get straight the whole individual doctor vs hospital policy thing.

    Once an institution accepts government money, they are voluntarily tying their hands. Remember the incident with the ivy league school that denied military recruiters because of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?” Well, I believe that the Supreme Court ruled that because that institution was taking government money, it had to allow a government funded agency like the military on its capus. That sounds to me to be perfectly reasonable.

    Also, Abortion is not always an elected procedure.

    Unsupported ad hominem attacks do not become you.

    It is well documented that Pope Benedict wears Prada and lives in what can only be described as a palace. It is relevant that the Catholic church spends millions on lawyers and law suits pertaining to child rape because they are getting government hand-outs and tax breaks all the while. As Christopher Hitchens would say “no, really, they have their priorities.”

    By the by, how is that so many religious leaders end up with with so much wealth yet at the same time claim that they need special government tax breaks and hand-outs or did I just answer my own question.

    Having lived for several years in Canada, where universal health care lead directly to a steep decline in level of service and the closing of many hospitals, I must disagree, nor do I think handing the problem over to the government will solve it (and I’m surprised you think it would, given your recent rejection of “big government”).

    It is a simple fact that the current health care system costs vastly more than any private institution can afford without help (even non-profits like all Catholic hospitals are).

    So… healthcare costs so much that the only answer is government assistance…but the government should not mediate the cost of healthcare because that’s government isn’t the answer. I do not get that.

    More to the point, Catholic hospitals account for 15% of all hospital beds in America, so their closing would be no small matter.

    I still do not understand why Catholic hospitals have to close.

    First of all, going back to the numbers game, it would upset the flow of healthcare millions of people. I mean, I do not care how Catholic you think you are, electively closing down a hospital over this single issue does appear to be relatively petty. Again, this goes to my initial point of caring more about the unborn than the born (potentially dying in this case).

    Secondly, even if the hospitals are surrendered by management in protest, I highly doubt that there won’t be secular folks ready to pick up the slack. I just cannot see MRIs being auctioned, buildings being demolished on a large scale.

  8. Secondly, even if the hospitals are surrendered by management in protest, I highly doubt that there won’t be secular folks ready to pick up the slack. I just cannot see MRIs being auctioned, buildings being demolished on a large scale.

    Assuming this is true (and depending on how you define ‘secular’ there is reason to be skeptical), and even if all the personnel at Catholic hospitals can be replaced/some other organization (secular or not) dragooned to pick up the slack, one would imagine the transition would not be an easy one.

    In a worst case scenario, if most, or even a significant portion of Catholic hospitals were to close because they obstinately refused to perform abortions, it is possible that society at large would incur non-trivial expenses wasting time and money re-organizing the healthcare system to make up for the losses. New employees would have to be found for the hospitals, new management would have to take power, and so on, and so on. I could see it taking at least months, if not years, for the American healthcare system to regain its previous level of efficiency.

    By all means, continue to to decry the pope for living in a palace, wearing Pravda, and spending millions of untaxed dollars defending child molesters–I have little love for Catholicism myself, I certainly won’t stop you. However, condemn the “relative pettiness” of caring for the unborn much more than the born all you want, but I suspect that the benefits to “the born” in having greater access to abortion might not outweigh the costs of wasting a significant amount of time and money replacing conservative Catholic employees and management in a hospital system which is already dealing with quite a lot as it is.

    If I were you, a person who is so very concerned for those already born, yet at the same time a cool-headed, objective rationalist, I would pause and think for a long while about whether or not the benefits of abortions for everybody outweigh the cost of alienating people who are responsible for providing quite a bit of America’s healthcare, even if they’re superstitious and unenlightened.

  9. N. Adam,
    It is a fact that Catholics in the United States are not the strictest of adherents. Many conservative Catholics support capital punishment and torture and many liberal Catholics support abortion rights and contraception. And everybody masturbates.

    And that is relevant to an institution’s right to define its own policies how, exactly? Or do you think only religious institutions maintain ethical and other regulations? Those who work at Catholic hospitals know the restrictions when they sign on.

    Once an institution accepts government money, they are voluntarily tying their hands. Remember the incident with the ivy league school that denied military recruiters because of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?” Well, I believe that the Supreme Court ruled that because that institution was taking government money, it had to allow a government funded agency like the military on its campus. That sounds to me to be perfectly reasonable.

    Except that up til now, government money has not come with such a stipulation that no health care provider can refuse to perform an abortion; so the question is, why should that further requirement be made? Hospitals differ in all manner of ways regarding what treatments they offer (even for life-threatening illnesses). Do you think there are not yet enough abortion providers in the United States that every hospital ought to be required to perform them as well? Why?

    It is well documented that Pope Benedict wears Prada and lives in what can only be described as a palace. It is relevant that the Catholic church spends millions on lawyers and law suits pertaining to child rape because they are getting government hand-outs and tax breaks all the while. As Christopher Hitchens would say “no, really, they have their priorities.”

    By the by, how is that so many religious leaders end up with with so much wealth yet at the same time claim that they need special government tax breaks and hand-outs or did I just answer my own question.

    Look, you won’t get any argument from me that many, including major figures in the Catholic church, are guilty of corruption and profiteering, but your examples are not relevant. The name brands the Pope wears were donated specifically by companies hoping to cash in on his notoriety (which doesn’t make them excusable, but it does prove that no money was spent on them), and the church hardly had in choice in how much to spend compensating the victims of abuse, but those millions have hardly left them in an improved financial situation. As for the “palace” that the Pope lives in, it is hardly out of keeping with the massive institution he presides over. The Vatican is not a private residence, after all, but an administrative center, library, museum, and object of pilgrimage, directly comparable to the capital of any other large nation. Would you condemn government taxation on the grounds that the President also lives in a “palace” (the White House)?

    If you want to point to these things as proof of how far much of Christianity has diverged from its homeless peasant founder, I’ll likely agree with you, but their relevance to the overwhelming costs of providing health care in this country is indirect at best, and the way you first brought them up was entirely ad hominem.

    So… healthcare costs so much that the only answer is government assistance…but the government should not mediate the cost of healthcare because that’s government isn’t the answer. I do not get that.

    We are talking about two different things: Government assistance is necessary because our litigation obsessed system has blown the costs out of all proportion to the services provided, but this is not in any sense ideal. To dismiss the closing of Catholic hospitals on the hope that, somehow, the government might take up even more the slack is absurd. Shouldn’t we be looking for ways to reduce government involvement, not increase it? (BTW, on that score I’m encouraged by Obama’s recent stand against lobbying–I hope it is but the first of many such efforts to reduce our out of control spending.)

    First of all, going back to the numbers game, it would upset the flow of healthcare millions of people. I mean, I do not care how Catholic you think you are, electively closing down a hospital over this single issue does appear to be relatively petty.

    To a group of people that views the unborn as full human beings, being forced to participate in the slaughter of over a million people a year is hardly “petty.” The real question is, why should anyone support legislation that could force them to make such a horrible choice between abandoning their moral principles or closing their doors?

  10. If I were you, a person who is so very concerned for those already born, yet at the same time a cool-headed, objective rationalist, I would pause and think for a long while about whether or not the benefits of abortions for everybody outweigh the cost of alienating people who are responsible for providing quite a bit of America’s healthcare, even if they’re superstitious and unenlightened.

    What about the neurologist or the cardiologist? Are they not obligated to “pause and think for a long while” before turning their back on the people that need them, or is the burden of reflection reserved for us “cool-headed, objective rationalist?”

  11. Are they not obligated to “pause and think for a long while” before turning their back on the people that need them

    They certainly are. Even if FOCA passes in its most extreme form, I would hope the employees at Catholic hospitals find some way to continue working for the good of their society. Perhaps they could refuse federal funds and petition the Vatican directly for aid, rely more heavily on donations from parishioners, or find some other alternative.

    But perhaps there are no workable alternatives if FOCA passes. And in that case, if, under serious reflection, these doctors still believe they would be neglecting their duties to the unborn (regardless of how stupid and unenlightened you may perceive that to be) more than their duties to the born if they continued to work at an institution forced to provide abortions, and still decide to “turn their backs” on the people that need them (although if what you say about the masses of secular people just waiting to take up the slack is true, I daresay their patients don’t need them *that* much), then while I may not agree, I can at least applaud them for thinking about both their moral convictions and their duties as doctors.

    And again, while doctors and other smart people may be held to a higher degree of self-inspection than laymen, I don’t think it’d be too strange to presume that cool-headed, objective rationalists such as yourself, highly intelligent as you folks tend to be, would be held to the same standard 🙂

  12. Shouldn’t we be looking for ways to reduce government involvement, not increase it?

    I could think of a lot of ways to decrease spending. We could require churches tow the same tax burden as every other institution or decrease the funding of faith based initiatives like abstinence-only education. If I were writing the federal budget, more taxpayer money would be made available to institutions like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Wikipedia. It is easy for me to say that because I do not see the value in giving preferential treatment to explicitly religious institutions such as the Moral Majority or Conservapedia no matter how much they amuse me (check out the Conservapedia entry for “Barack Hussein Obama” (redirected from Barack Obama)).

    You see value in giving government money to hospitals and, at the same time, think that a hospital should be allowed to enforce a divisive and wholly religious-based belief in what is supposed to be a house of healing. I think that, first of all, a cardiologist should worry more about their own patients than what the gynecologist is doing on the other side of the building. Secondly, I think that if an institution is going to get money from a secular government, it should not be allowed to use the money to practice their own explicitly religious beliefs.

    You claim that “[t]hose who work at Catholic hospitals know the restrictions when they sign on.” Well, the same is true when one is receiving government money. If a Catholic hospital wants to petition the Vatican for funding then that is another thing completely. Of course, if that should occur on a larger scale then a palace just might have to be mortgaged.

  13. N. Adam,
    You win yourself no credibility by condemning pro-life doctors for refusing to participate in what they believe is mass slaughter, while simultaneously proposing to cut funding for the faith-based organizations which perform much of the charitable work in this country. All so you could throw yet more money at Planned Parenthood?

    You see value in giving government money to hospitals and, at the same time, think that a hospital should be allowed to enforce a divisive and wholly religious-based belief in what is supposed to be a house of healing.

    What is divisive is using federal funds to pay for abortion. What is divisive is abortion-in-all-circumstances as an inalienable right. Only 20-30% of Americans accept that, but you and the folks at Planned Parenthood think it should be imposed on the entire country by fiat.

    But–oh!–a hospital dares to take seriously the Hippocratic Oath (which, until recent decades, forbid abortion) and they no longer deserve to be called a “house of healing.”

    You claim that “[t]hose who work at Catholic hospitals know the restrictions when they sign on.” Well, the same is true when one is receiving government money.

    Actually, no. The abortion policy of Catholic hospitals has been unambiguous for as long as there have been Catholic hospitals, whereas you are defending the imposition of new and unprecedented restrictions on every hospital in the country, all because–why, exactly?

    Whose priorities are screwed up again–the ones who dare to stand by their vow to “Do no harm,” or those who want to cut off funding to every medical institution that refuses to perform an abortion?

  14. You win yourself no credibility by condemning pro-life doctors for refusing to participate in what they believe is mass slaughter

    I would not (and did not) characterize what goes on in the opposite (or even neighboring) wing of the building as participation. Furthermore–and I have been consistent on this point–a hospital has more freedom to practice its explicitly religious belief provided that they do not accept governemnt money.

    Actually, no. The abortion policy of Catholic hospitals has been unambiguous for as long as there have been Catholic hospitals, whereas you are defending the imposition of new and unprecedented restrictions on every hospital in the country, all because–why, exactly?

    I think you already know my values, Ken.

    What is divisive is using federal funds to pay for abortion. What is divisive is abortion-in-all-circumstances as an inalienable right. Only 20-30% of Americans accept that, but you and the folks at Planned Parenthood think it should be imposed on the entire country by fiat.

    Yes, I want to impose my values on the country because I believe that my values will lead to social justice and civility. I guess we are just two peas in a pod, huh.

    The fact is that most Americans can be characterized as “pro-choice” yet despite that, those in the “pro-life” movement have been writing backdoor legislation imposing their will. It was Bush that issued an order to ban funding to international charities that performed abortions as part of family planning and, as we speak, our Senate Republican leader is trying to tie in such legislation in the stimulus package.

    And yes, I would take all the money given to abstinence only education (which notoriously resulted in increasing risky sexual behavior among teens) and give it to an organization that advocates prevention (and includes in its literature monogamy and abstinence) first.

  15. N. Adam,
    I would not (and did not) characterize what goes on in the opposite (or even neighboring) wing of the building as participation.

    Who says the doctors concerned work in a different wing? Do you think no gynecologists are pro-life? For that matter, we are not talking about individual doctors at all, but whether a medical institution has the right to determine for itself what services to offer.

    Furthermore–and I have been consistent on this point–a hospital has more freedom to practice its explicitly religious belief provided that they do not accept governemnt money.

    Actually, unless FOCA changes things, hospitals have the freedom to offer services or not for a variety of reasons–religious or secular; it is you that is willing to eliminate funding for hospitals which happen to disagree with you on a single point–abortion–even while claiming shock that anyone would elevate abortion to such preeminent importance!

    I think you already know my values, Ken.

    Your values are clear; why you think anyone else should accept them is much less so.

    Yes, I want to impose my values on the country because I believe that my values will lead to social justice and civility. I guess we are just two peas in a pod, huh.

    So you dismiss pro-life concerns because they are “divisive,” but defend your own divisive goals on the same grounds.

    The fact is that most Americans can be characterized as “pro-choice” yet despite that, those in the “pro-life” movement have been writing backdoor legislation imposing their will.

    “The fact is” that polls consistently show a majority believes abortion should only be legal (if at all) in “some” or “certain” circumstances, generally only in cases of “rape, incest or when the mother’s health is in danger.” “The fact is” that most of the legislation FOCA would overturn was not written in through the back door, but passed and upheld, again and again, by the states and the courts. For instance, virtually every state in the union has either a parental consent or a parental notification requirement for abortions on minors. These have been upheld by the courts and shown to reduce the incidence of abortion among minors, yet FOCA would eliminate all of them at a stroke. Which of us is trying to impose “backdoor legislation” again?

    It was Bush that issued an order to ban funding to international charities that performed abortions as part of family planning and, as we speak, our Senate Republican leader is trying to tie in such legislation in the stimulus package.

    You condemn this, then turn around and and support the exact same kind of approach when it favors your position.

    And yes, I would take all the money given to abstinence only education (which notoriously resulted in increasing risky sexual behavior among teens) and give it to an organization that advocates prevention (and includes in its literature monogamy and abstinence) first.

    On this, I actually agree with you. Abstinence-only education and virginity pledges have not been shown to have any positive impact on teenage sex (rather, it is religious commitment which most strongly correlates with reduced rates of teenage sex and pregnancy), but the claim in your previous comment was much broader. You proposed cutting tax breaks and funding for all “faith-based initiatives,” including churches and religious-based hospitals–all so that you could give yet more money to Planned Parenthood.

    Perhaps that is not what you meant, but if it is is it deeply ironic. You condemn the pro-life movement for, in your view, placing too much focus on abortion at the expense of other social needs like care for the poor and access to health care, but here you are, proposing to cut funding to the very religious institutions which are focused on meeting those needs, all so you can spend more money on abortion. Again I ask: Whose priorities are mixed up?

  16. I would not (and did not) characterize what goes on in the opposite (or even neighboring) wing of the building as participation.

    the problem is, many of them do. You are perfectly entitled to believe they are stupid, misguided, superstitious, or whatever for doing so, but this does not really change the fact that their (insert derogatory adjective here) beliefs have real consequences. If forced to work in a hospital which provides abortions, many of them would rather just give up practicing all together.

    Is this “valuing the unborn more than the born?” Sure. However condemnable you may think that is, though, the end result is a tradeoff between the benefits of having abortions be more readily available and the cost of alienating a significant proportion of competent healthcare professionals (with the expense in time and money replacing them entails).

    Perhaps you think the scale tips more towards the benefits; I am not quite so sure. I do wonder, though, if there might be other ways to increase the availability of abortions without forcing religious organizations to kneel before the state’s power, regardless of whether or not its intent is to increase progress, “social justice,” and “civility.”

    Rather than forcing all hospitals to perform abortions, or denying all federal benefit to hospitals which refuse to perform the procedure, how about alternative solutions; for instance giving preferential treatment and funding to hospitals which are more in line with the government’s (i.e your) beliefs on abortion? While this would allow Catholic hopsitals their freedom of choice in performing abortions or not, it would give a financial incentive for secular hospitals to increase their ability to provide abortions (if they so choose, of course).

    It seems to me a course of action like that would perform the benefit of increasing the availability of abortions without hamstringing Catholic hospitals, since they would still be getting federal assistance, just not the extent abortion-providing hospitals would. Generally, if one’s goal is to make abortion more readily available, in the name of “social justice” and “civility” at least (goals which I do not perceive to be particularly objectionable), it strikes me as more prudent to give assistance to those who want to perform abortions rather than, as FOCA might, forcing people who have moral qualms about the procedure to perform it.

  17. “The fact is” that polls consistently show a majority believes abortion should only be legal (if at all) in “some” or “certain” circumstances, generally only in cases of “rape, incest or when the mother’s health is in danger.”

    Look at support for IVF and embryonic stem cell research and the obvious conclusion is that people are opposed to any perception of promiscuity rather than the life of an embryo. As per usual, polling Americans with respect to sexual issues is notoriously unreliable. If one went by polls, there would not be market for erectile dysfunction despite the fact that drugs like Viagra sell by the millions.

    Your values are clear; why you think anyone else should accept them is much less so.

    Again, already stated. I believe that my values will lead to social justice.

    So you dismiss pro-life concerns because they are “divisive,” but defend your own divisive goals on the same grounds.

    Common mistake. I do not dismiss your values because they are divisive, I dismiss them because they are wrong. Whatever beef I have with the tone, rhetoric, and bullying from your camp are entirely separate issues from the fact that I think your side is wrong.

    Look, the fact is that millions of abortions are performed in countries where abortion is illegal (uncoincidentally in many countries where women are second class citizens). If you outlaw abortion, the abortion rate may decrease, but you will increase the health risk for many women because abortions will not stop.

    What people like yourself seem not to get is that there are some things that people are going to do. For instance, people like to get high. You can search every crate and inspect every car that comes into this country, but people are either turn their basements into meth labs, sniff compressed-gas filled dust removers, lick the backs poisonous frogs, or consume mushrooms. Nearly every civilization has figured out how to make alcohol and when it was banned in the US during the Prohibition era, it caused more problems than it solved. The same is true of the war on drugs today.

    The solution to all this just might not be outlawing every perceived human vice. I mean, look at The Netherlands: low crime rate, low abortion rate (high rates of nonbelief)–yet some of the things you can do there legally would land you in jail for life over here.

    For instance, virtually every state in the union has either a parental consent or a parental notification requirement for abortions on minors. These have been upheld by the courts and shown to reduce the incidence of abortion among minors, yet FOCA would eliminate all of them at a stroke.

    Which, quite necessarily, increases the rate of teenage pregnancy. You are trading one debatable social ill for another, more definite, social ill. Yet another case of caring more about the welfare of the unborn than the born.

    And whats this about courts? Are they only non-atavist when they rule in your favor?

    You condemn this, then turn around and and support the exact same kind of approach when it favors your position.

    Excuse me, but this is not an earmark we are talking about–Obama is doing this in the light of day.

    You condemn the pro-life movement for, in your view, placing too much focus on abortion at the expense of other social needs like care for the poor and access to health care, but here you are, proposing to cut funding to the very religious institutions which are focused on meeting those needs, all so you can spend more money on abortion.

    Again, I would not cut off federal funding for all religious institutions. Only those that take federal money from a secular government to perform explicitly religious deeds. I do not know what is so hard to get about that.

  18. my values will lead to social justice.

    To say this is debatable would be an understatement.

    perform explicitly religious deeds

    *not* performing abortion is *performing* an explicitly religious deed? I could see the point if the *only* people who opposed abortion were religious, but atheists not unlike yourself oppose abortion as well. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, so forgive me if this seems heavy-handed, belaboring the point, or stating the obvious, but check these out:

    http://www.godlessprolifers.org/home.html

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/171240

    I mean, if a Catholic hospital refused to perform abortions because it declared “the Pope/Jesus/Bible/whoever said so,” fine, that’s explicitly religious. But I really don’t see why it oughtn’t be able to provide the same arguments these bad boys provide, irreligious as they are. Whether they’re right or wrong is another question, but you certainly can’t deny they’re not religious.

    (Also, pardon, but who’s deleting all these comments? Ken? I hope I haven’t said anything inflammatory, although my comments still seem to be up…)

  19. To say this is debatable would be an understatement.

    Bad form, my friend. A proper citation would have read “I believe that my values will lead to social justice.”

    And yes, it would be rather disingenuous for me to argue, as passionately as I do, for a position that I did not truly believe in.

    I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, so forgive me if this seems heavy-handed, belaboring the point, or stating the obvious…

    I am afraid that you might be guilty on all three counts.

    And I am deleting my own comments as google is posting my comments prematurely and instead of keeping them I decided to, er, abort.

  20. N. Adam,
    Look at support for IVF and embryonic stem cell research and the obvious conclusion is that people are opposed to any perception of promiscuity rather than the life of an embryo. As per usual, polling Americans with respect to sexual issues is notoriously unreliable. If one went by polls, there would not be market for erectile dysfunction despite the fact that drugs like Viagra sell by the millions.

    That’s a fun game: if the polls don’t back up your claims, assume they are wrong. I could just as easily assert that the reason for higher polling in favor of IVF and ESCR is because of general ignorance about what those involve–do you find that convincing?

    Again, already stated. I believe that my values will lead to social justice.

    Again, we know what you believe; we don’t know why that belief should be accepted.

    Common mistake. I do not dismiss your values because they are divisive, I dismiss them because they are wrong. Whatever beef I have with the tone, rhetoric, and bullying from your camp are entirely separate issues from the fact that I think your side is wrong.

    Nevertheless, you explicitly appealed to the “divisive” nature of the abortion policy of Catholic hospitals as the reason why such policies should not be allowed. Yet you have no problem at all imposing an equally divisive pro-abortion policy on society at large.

    Look, the fact is that millions of abortions are performed in countries where abortion is illegal (uncoincidentally in many countries where women are second class citizens). If you outlaw abortion, the abortion rate may decrease, but you will increase the health risk for many women because abortions will not stop.

    I have made clear on several occasions that I do not believe abortion should be outlawed, only that it is (in most cases) immoral and that the restrictions currently in place are–by and large–just and necessary. We are not talking about criminalizing abortion; we are talking about a piece of legislation that would eliminate hundreds of restrictions on abortion that have extremely broad popular, legislative and judicial support, and have been shown to have contributed significantly to the reduction in both abortion and teen pregnancy over the last two decades.

    I said: For instance, virtually every state in the union has either a parental consent or a parental notification requirement for abortions on minors. These have been upheld by the courts and shown to reduce the incidence of abortion among minors, yet FOCA would eliminate all of them at a stroke.

    You said: Which, quite necessarily, increases the rate of teenage pregnancy. You are trading one debatable social ill for another, more definite, social ill. Yet another case of caring more about the welfare of the unborn than the born.

    Sorry, but no. Here’s straight from the horse’s mouth: The five states with the highest teenage abortion rates–New Jersey (78%), New York (67%), Maryland (62%), Nevada (59%), California (58%)–are all among the top 16 highest teenage pregnancy rates in the nation. Whereas the five states with the lowest abortion rates–Utah (9%), South Dakota (13%), North Dakota (12% [NB: I’m not sure why this is listed as 48th and SD as 49th]), Kentucky (13%), West Virginia (15%)–are all among the top 25 lowest teenage pregnancy rates, and the three lowest abortion rates (Utah, SD and ND) are all in the top five lowest pregnancy rates.

    And whats this about courts? Are they only non-activist when they rule in your favor?

    No, only when they are right. 😉

    Again, I would not cut off federal funding for all religious institutions. Only those that take federal money from a secular government to perform explicitly religious deeds. I do not know what is so hard to get about that.

    As Jeb said, not performing abortions hardly qualifies as performing “explicitly religious deeds.”

  21. Jeb,
    The deleted comments were N. Adam’s, and he deleted them himself. I do not delete comments (my own or those of others) except in the cases of spam or (if it ever happened, though it hasn’t yet) “content-free personal attacks.”

  22. Bad form, my friend. A proper citation would have read “I believe that my values will lead to social justice.”

    Well, okay. Me, I’m not sure I believe that, and while I won’t try and put words in Ken’s mouth, if I had to guess I might surmise that he doesn’t believe your values–at least in this case–will lead to “social justice” either.

    I am afraid that you might be guilty on all three counts.

    In that case, I do apologize for lecturing you on what you already know. That said, perhaps you found my other argument just a wee bit less tiresome? You claim, as far as I can see, that refusing to perform abortions is an “explicitly religious act,” but as these atheists prove, it is possible to oppose abortion without resorting to religion. So if all those Catholic hospitals just took a page from the “Godless Pro-Lifers” and refused to perform abortions citing purely secular justifications, would you say they would still be obligated to bow before the whim of the state?

    The deleted comments were N. Adam’s, and he deleted them himself. I do not delete comments (my own or those of others) except in the cases of spam or (if it ever happened, though it hasn’t yet) “content-free personal attacks.”

    Ah, I see. Thank you. I shall endeavor to keep my commentary at least somewhat full of content, and I do hope I haven’t attacked anybody personally here–at least I haven’t been trying (hard). 😉

  23. Correction:
    I accidentally gave the abortion percentages of 18-19 year olds only, rather than of all teenagers (that explains the discrepancy between SD and ND); the rankings were correct, however, which was the important point. Here are the correct values for all teenagers aged 15-19 (with Pregnancy rank and rate/1000 females):

    1. New Jersey 47% (P 16th; 90)
    2. New York 46% (P 14th; 91)
    3. Maryland 38% (P 13th; 91)
    4. Nevada 36% (P 1st; 113)
    5. California 36% (P 7th; 96)

    46. West Virginia 10% (P 35th; 67)
    47. Kentucky 8% (P 25th; 76)
    48. North Dakota 8% (P 50th; 42)
    49. South Dakota 7% (P 44th; 54)
    50. Utah 6% (P 45th; 53)

    It hardly needs to be said that Utah, SD and ND have among the nations strictest abortion restrictions, while NJ, NY, Maryland, Nevada and Cali. have some of the loosest.

  24. Jeb,
    I shall endeavor to keep my commentary at least somewhat full of content, and I do hope I haven’t attacked anybody personally here–at least I haven’t been trying (hard). 😉

    It would take a lot to get me to delete a comment; but you are welcome to try. I could use a laugh! 😉

  25. That’s a fun game: if the polls don’t back up your claims, assume they are wrong. I could just as easily assert that the reason for higher polling in favor of IVF and ESCR is because of general ignorance about what those involve–do you find that convincing?

    People are allowed to have two honest different interpretations of polls, Ken. I brought up the fact that most people are “pro-choice.” That their stance is conditional to reasons that just so happen not to carry any implied promiscuity is not irrelevant. And to answer your question, it is doubtful that people do not know what is at stake with embryonic stem cell research, what with the word embryo in the word.

    Nevertheless, you explicitly appealed to the “divisive” nature of the abortion policy of Catholic hospitals as the reason why such policies should not be allowed. Yet you have no problem at all imposing an equally divisive pro-abortion policy on society at large.

    The crux of my argument has always been the problem of government spending.

    Sorry, but no. Here’s straight from the horse’s mouth: The five states with the highest teenage abortion rates–New Jersey (78%), New York (67%), Maryland (62%), Nevada (59%), California (58%)–are all among the top 16 highest teenage pregnancy rates in the nation. Whereas the five states with the lowest abortion rates–Utah (9%), South Dakota (13%), North Dakota (12% [NB: I’m not sure why this is listed as 48th and SD as 49th]), Kentucky (13%), West Virginia (15%)–are all among the top 25 lowest teenage pregnancy rates, and the three lowest abortion rates (Utah, SD and ND) are all in the top five lowest pregnancy rates.

    Five among sixteen, five among twenty-five when there are only fifty states? I dare say that you could prove anything relying on that. I mean, correlation is not causation, but here I am doubting that there is even that.

    Well, okay. Me, I’m not sure I believe that, and while I won’t try and put words in Ken’s mouth, if I had to guess I might surmise that he doesn’t believe your values–at least in this case–will lead to “social justice” either.

    Hence the debate.

    So if all those Catholic hospitals just took a page from the “Godless Pro-Lifers” and refused to perform abortions citing purely secular justifications, would you say they would still be obligated to bow before the whim of the state?

    No. Seeing as it a hospital, I imagine they would have to give a medical reason.

  26. N. Adam,
    People are allowed to have two honest different interpretations of polls, Ken. I brought up the fact that most people are “pro-choice.” That their stance is conditional to reasons that just so happen not to carry any implied promiscuity is not irrelevant.

    When we are discussing whether or not the restrictions on abortion are “divisive” (your claim that they are is what set off this line of argument) the polls are what matter, not whatever motives you or I might presume to read into them. On that point, it does not matter if people are in favor of abortion restrictions because they believe in the sanctity of life, because they believe all those who seek abortion are promiscuous, or because they think embryos are cupcakes and would prefer not to destroy them–regardless of the reasons, the polls consistently show that unfettered access to abortion is more “divisive” than restrictions on abortion are (i.e. only 20-30 percent of people claim to oppose all restrictions on abortion, while the other 70-80 percent favor at least some restrictions).

    Of course, if you are willing to drop your appeal to abortion restrictions being “divisive,” then the actual reasons to be for or against them become important, and that is really the point, is it not? What matters is not what people believe but what actually would lead to “social justice and civility.” 😉 Hence:

    The crux of my argument has always been the problem of government spending.

    Even if this were true (and you have certainly not restricted yourself to that subject) the argument just doesn’t hold: You are supporting the elimination of funding for 15% of the hospitals in America for no other reason than that you disagree with their policy on a single issue (well, that, and that you apparently don’t like Catholicism), while completely ignoring that those costs (and more) would have to be covered by the government regardless–either the Catholic hospitals give in and perform abortions to keep their funding (in which case there is no savings to the government), or they close and the government has to spend even more money replacing them and fixing an even worse health crisis than we currently face.

    Five among sixteen, five among twenty-five when there are only fifty states? I dare say that you could prove anything relying on that. I mean, correlation is not causation, but here I am doubting that there is even that.

    You’ve missed the point. You claimed that restrictions on abortion “necessarily” lead to higher pregnancy rates; I showed definitively (from Planned Parenthood’s own numbers) that in fact the states with the five highest abortion rates (all of which have few or no restrictions) all five have consistently and significantly higher pregnancy rates than the five states with the fewest abortions (and, in four out of five, heavy restrictions). That is a strong correlation.

    As explained more fully in yesterday’s post, the point is not that there is a perfect inverse correlation between abortion restrictions and pregnancy rates; the point is that your claim that increased restrictions “necessarily” lead to increased pregnancy rates is clearly and unambiguously false.

  27. When we are discussing whether or not the restrictions on abortion are “divisive” (your claim that they are is what set off this line of argument) the polls are what matter, not whatever motives you or I might presume to read into them. On that point, it does not matter if people are in favor of abortion restrictions because they believe in the sanctity of life, because they believe all those who seek abortion are promiscuous, or because they think embryos are cupcakes and would prefer not to destroy them–regardless of the reasons, the polls consistently show that unfettered access to abortion is more “divisive” than restrictions on abortion are (i.e. only 20-30 percent of people claim to oppose all restrictions on abortion, while the other 70-80 percent favor at least some restrictions).

    I could not disagree more. Raw data (especially raw polling data) is useless without context. It just is.

    Even if this were true (and you have certainly not restricted yourself to that subject)…

    You know, Ken, I have always assumed good faith on your part. I sincerely hope that you assume as much with me.

    I have not limited my argument to the problem of government spending, but it remains my cheif complaint. I have stated it many more times than I have typed the word “divisive.”

    You are supporting the elimination of funding for 15% of the hospitals in America for no other reason than that you disagree with their policy on a single issue (well, that, and that you apparently don’t like Catholicism), while completely ignoring that those costs (and more) would have to be covered by the government regardless–either the Catholic hospitals give in and perform abortions to keep their funding (in which case there is no savings to the government), or they close and the government has to spend even more money replacing them and fixing an even worse health crisis than we currently face.

    As previously stated, I think that it is highly unlikely that 15% of hospitals in this country will dissappear. Some will be strong armed into following the policies set by a secular government, some will survive without government funding, and some will surrender their ownership to people who have less of a problem with it.

    You’ve missed the point. You claimed that restrictions on abortion “necessarily” lead to higher pregnancy rates; I showed definitively (from Planned Parenthood’s own numbers) that in fact the states with the five highest abortion rates (all of which have few or no restrictions) all five have consistently and significantly higher pregnancy rates than the five states with the fewest abortions (and, in four out of five, heavy restrictions).

    You have succeeded in comparing Washington apples to Florida oranges. You have to have a control based in the same environment to disprove my assertion.

    Perhaps you’ve done as much in your more recent post…

  28. Some will be strong armed into following the policies set by a secular government, some will survive without government funding, and some will surrender their ownership to people who have less of a problem with it.

    Even taking this best case scenario, the hospitals that ‘survive’ without government funding will likely see their services cut, and the ones which ‘surrender’ their ownership to others will likely have to undergo the expenses involved in finding new employees to replace the ones that have been lost, reorganizing under new leadership, and so on.

    And then again, to go back to what you said earlier,

    No. Seeing as it a hospital, I imagine they would have to give a medical reason.

    The Godless Pro-Lifer site I liked to above gives a couple of medical justifications for refusing to perform abortions (risks to the mother, psychological aftereffects, and others). Now, I’m sure you think such justifications are bunkum, but if our Catholic friends needed secular medical reasons to justify their refusal to perform abortions, they could take a page from that site.

    All in all, as I said above, it would be more efficient to give preferential treatment to those willing to provide abortions rather than simply strong-arming those who aren’t willing.

  29. Great post! I’m glad to link to it as part of the Christian Carnival.

    I’m outspoken about abortion because I see it as the greatest atrocity our country is legitimizing at this time. That does not mean other issues are unimportant or that I do nothing for the poor or those in need.

  30. N. Adam,
    I could not disagree more. Raw data (especially raw polling data) is useless without context. It just is.

    Perhaps so, but no context can make the polls say the opposite of what they say, it’s not as though we are talking about a single poll or a 50-50 split here.

    You know, Ken, I have always assumed good faith on your part. I sincerely hope that you assume as much with me.

    I have not limited my argument to the problem of government spending, but it remains my cheif complaint. I have stated it many more times than I have typed the word “divisive.”

    Point taken. I did not mean to imply dishonesty; nevertheless, if government spending is your chief complaint, I just don’t see why it should be focused on hospitals that do not provide abortions.

    How does failing to provide a service cost the government anything extra, and why should this issue be singled out as the make or break issue for government funding, especially in the midst of a health crisis?

    I’m not trying to score points or psychologize you, I’m just trying to get at something we can agree on. You began this conversation by pointing out the dire health situation in this country and decrying the pro-life movement for being “abortion-centric,” but I just do not see how tying government funding for health care to abortion can be anything other than an embrace of the very distortion you began by condemning.

    As previously stated, I think that it is highly unlikely that 15% of hospitals in this country will dissappear. Some will be strong armed into following the policies set by a secular government, some will survive without government funding, and some will surrender their ownership to people who have less of a problem with it.

    As Jeb has said, even in this “best case scenario” there are all sorts of added costs and (at the very least temporary) reductions in service; I just don’t see what benefit you see in such a thing to justify further upsetting the status quo.

    You have succeeded in comparing Washington apples to Florida oranges. You have to have a control based in the same environment to disprove my assertion.

    You have this backwards. You are the one claiming causation between abortion availability and pregnancy rate (“necessarily”), thus you have the burden of proof to justify the assertion. I need only point to counter-examples to disprove your claim that such causation is “necessarily” the case.

    To be sure, a diachronic measure within each state would be a better guide, and I plan to look into it, but regardless, it is your assertion to back up.

  31. Perhaps so, but no context can make the polls say the opposite of what they say, it’s not as though we are talking about a single poll or a 50-50 split here.

    I am not disputing what they say, I am suggesting that the reason why some people approach the issue of abortion the way they do has more to do with the perception of promiscuity than it does with the right to life.

    As Jeb has said, even in this “best case scenario” there are all sorts of added costs and (at the very least temporary) reductions in service; I just don’t see what benefit you see in such a thing to justify further upsetting the status quo.

    If you honestly cannot detect by now the benefit I see in it, then perhaps this was a failure on my part. I’ll do better next time.

    You have this backwards. You are the one claiming causation between abortion availability and pregnancy rate (“necessarily”), thus you have the burden of proof to justify the assertion. I need only point to counter-examples to disprove your claim that such causation is “necessarily” the case.

    I regret to inform you that your counter-examples leave much to be desired. Nevertheless, you are right. The burden of proof is on me. I’m just not sure how I can go about doing that at the moment….

    Since this discussion has long passed its peak, I will only be replying in the more recent thread.

  32. N. Adam,
    If you honestly cannot detect by now the benefit I see in it, then perhaps this was a failure on my part. I’ll do better next time.

    I’m not sure. As far as I can tell, the benefit you see in it is greater access to abortion, but that is not a “government spending” issue… which is really my point.

  33. Ken,

    Sorry I’m so late to this discussion, I’ve been trying to catch up on my reading. And although I am a lightweight, please allow me to weigh in on this topic.

    The act of abortion can be divided up into different classes. In my mind the first divider is necessity. Is the procedure necessary in order to save the mother’s life or to spare her serious and irreversible damage to her health? If not then it is simply elective surgery. So then, where does the government get off forcing faith-based hospitals and healthcare facilities to perform an elective procedure? On the other side, what kind of doctor would refuse to perform an abortion in order to save a mother’s life? Furthermore, why should taxpayers have to pay for an elective procedure? With regards to the procedure itself I think most people would agree that there is a big difference between aborting a cluster of 256 cells and killing a baby that just happens to still have its little feet inside the birth canal. Some aspects of the politically philosophical argument for or against a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy make sense, but partial birth abortions and the issue of denying parental involvement? This is insane. I am watching this country literally go insane.


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