How I became pro-choice

Few periods in life are quite as emotionally intense as the years when you are starting your family. Will it be a boy or a girl? Will he have your eyes? Will she be okay? Marked by anticipation, anxiety, sleeplessness, joy and occasional heartbreak, the rewards are closely linked to the massive personal investment it demands, an investment that stretches into your soul.

For many people, this is the experience that completes their transition to adulthood. Taking on these responsibilities means becoming more than merely independent. Assuming this duty to protect another life reveals a broader pattern of obligations that were always there, but many of us fail to recognize prior to that transformation.

In many ways, “growing up” means becoming bigger. By contrast, building a family means becoming quite small. Where not so long ago the shape of my day reflected the outline of my own personal wants, ambitions and needs, now my life became richer and more complex. As my world grew, my own place in it shrunk in relative terms. That new perspective came to influence everything, including my politics.

What my wife and I experienced as we tried to have children gave me a deeper perspective on reproductive issues. That very personal brush with larger political forces was a kind of wake-up call, a transition toward grown-up life which left me feeling a burden to see the world with more humility and compassion. In the midst of a fierce struggle to have children, we discovered how difficult it can be to get an abortion.

Our first child came with the half-intentional ease of youth. Having another would not be so simple. My wife faced health issues that would complicate childbearing under the best of conditions. We were not facing the best of conditions. As her second miscarriage loomed, we realized we would need to end her pregnancy.

About nine weeks into the pregnancy it became clear that the fetus had died. There was no heartbeat and hormone levels associated with a developing fetus, which should be surging, had begun to decline. As disappointing as this was, it wasn’t the worst news. My wife was very ill. Cramping, severe nausea and bleeding were complicating other health conditions and still the miscarriage did not occur.

As days wore on the situation became more serious. Her doctor explained that she needed a removal procedure which is also commonly used to perform an abortion. Religious restrictions at the hospital where our doctor operated made it very difficult to perform that procedure in their facilities under any circumstances. My wife could not get the procedure she needed without stronger proof that the fetus had died. Until proof was available in the form of a certain hormone level dropping below a set threshold, the facility would not allow the procedure. And even then additional approvals were required. When might that happen? Could be days. Could be weeks.

In theory, an abortion (if that’s what it should be called in this case) was still an option even without our doctor, but the reality was far more complex. If the hospital, or more specifically the hospital’s religious sponsors, would allow the procedure, our doctor could have put an end to that suffering the same afternoon. In the hands of a doctor who understood her broader set of conditions and with the resources of the Texas Medical Center at her disposal, the procedure would be safe, her recovery would be simple, and she would have been back on her feet in a couple of days.

Without access to her doctor, the situation was very difficult. We could wait for a miscarriage to happen in due course, but the risk of complications was growing. She was incapacitated and miserable. Her illness was beginning to trigger a wider range of conditions. There was no reliable prediction for how long this might persist.

We could find another provider, but even with a referral that was not a simple matter. One does not simply stride into an OB/GYN’s office one afternoon like breezing into the grocery store. A few calls made clear that no relief would be coming from that direction for quite some time.

That left us with the option of going to an abortion clinic, but that was not a straightforward matter. Her complications presented a set of circumstances they do not normally see. Then there was the cost. We discovered that our insurance might not cover the procedure under those circumstances, from the available providers. Even if it would, we would have to find the money up front then fight for repayment.

We weren’t poor, but we weren’t exactly liquid either. I was starting a career and she was just finishing her master’s degree. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment with our young child who needed his mother. Our options were sorely limited and the danger was rising.

Trapped in a situation I never could have imagined before, politics was now intruding on my family’s future. While my wife laid bleeding and vomiting on the bathroom floor and our two-year son wondered what was going on, a collection of preachers, priests, and politicians had substituted their ignorant opinions for the insights of our doctor.

Politically, I had always thought of myself as a Texas conservative, an heir to the state’s “Come and Take It” tradition of militant individual liberty. Abortion was not a major concern of mine, though I casually opposed the practice. Thanks to others who shared that political tradition, my family’s most intimate medical needs were now subject to the ignorant whims of a few religious bigots, certain that their interpretation of scripture was more relevant than a doctor’s opinion.

For us, this episode ended about as well as it could. After a few days scrambling to find an alternative, nature took its course and she had a miscarriage. It took a few months to recover from some of the unnecessary complications of the prolonged process, but she recovered. In time we had another child.

It was an eye-opening, humbling experience. If a family with our resources and education found it this difficult to get the basic gynecological care we needed, what must this be like for others? As a Republican in Houston I was used to hearing abortion defined by hysterical extremists. Like the rest of the hysterical extremes that mark life in Texas, from the weather to the people, I had learned to tune it out.

After that experience it became harder to ignore those extremes and their implications. By sustaining a relatively detached opposition to abortion, I was participating in a political movement with implications I never understood. Those implications were not hidden. I just lacked the curiosity or compassion to discover them until they barged through my door.

Abortion wasn’t the only subject that started to inspire unease. It was becoming clear that there were serious, material consequences to living in a place where public life was steered by bigoted religious mullahs. From textbooks to transit, raising my children in a climate dominated by fundamentalists would impact their lives in ways I had never considered.

It’s a free country. Leaving home, especially a home tied to such deep roots is painful, but I don’t live there anymore. That said, you can’t solve every problem by running.

In 2013, Ohio’s Republican Senator Rob Portman announced a change in his position on same-sex marriage, citing his experience with his son who had come out as gay. He was criticized for the narrowness of this position, for only recognizing the damage his previous positions had caused once he had personally experienced their impact. That criticism hits home.

I had no interest in abortion rights until the matter invaded my own living room. Even then, what we experienced is relatively trivial. The misery endured by so many others who struggle under the worst of conditions to secure their right to control their own bodies is an unnecessary travesty.

Recognizing how badly wrong I was on this issue has inspired a great deal more caution and humility on other issues. I have experienced the power of markets and commerce to deliver improvements in the lives of ordinary people. I have also experienced the potential of bigotry to spread pain and misery. Those two insights create a constant tension. On the one hand, I feel tied to the Republican Party’s emphasis on growth and prosperity. On the other hand, the rest of the party’s increasingly bizarre agenda leaves me frustrated and occasionally frightened.

Being an adult inspires more than independence. We come to recognize our myriad dependencies. Being grown-up involves seeing our vital role in sustaining a community older than ourselves with a longer future than our own. Experiencing the realities around reproductive rights in a very personal way helped inform a wider perspective on other issues. It helped me see the wider consequences of my own choices.

I already left Texas. I’m not leaving the GOP without a much longer, more determined fight. I won’t lose another home.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Reproductive Rights
194 comments on “How I became pro-choice
  1. TheMeansAreTheEnd says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Lifer. I’ve been wondering why you insist that you are a Republican for life, given your large differences with the party leadership. Now I think I understand.Still, I have two thoughts for you.

    1) “I feel tied to the Republican Party’s emphasis on growth and prosperity.” Yes, but which party’s policies actually lead to more middle-class growth and prosperity? I’m sure you’ve seen the statistics comparing things like the stock market & the national debt under Democratic and Republican Presidents. I encourage you to apply your analytical thought to ways the GOP emphasis on growth and prosperity can be translated into policies that are more beneficial to the country as a whole, rather than to the wealthy.

    2) To me, the true essence of conservatism is keeping things that are believed to work and the true essence of progressivism is changing things that are believed to not work. We need both tendencies in our politics and indeed in each of us. And we need the humility to recognize that things that work fine for us don’t work for others — and that our ideas for how to fix them may not work, either. So I want to see a more truly progressive Democratic Party and a more truly conservative Republican Party to argue out the necessary balance between these tendencies. Best of luck trying to change your party.

  2. flypusher says:

    And now for something scary:

    http://gizmodo.com/can-crowdfunding-save-this-town-from-white-supremacy-1735021979

    I don’t doubt this guy has plenty of guns.

  3. texan5142 says:

    I love this post.

    http://thinkprogress.org/health/2015/10/06/3709636/abortion-wait-time-texas/

    David Dougherty · Greensboro, North Carolina
    How about this from a Facebook post ”

    “How about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion — mandatory 48-hr waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he’s about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence, an ultrasound wand up the wazoo (just because). Let’s close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun. Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun. It makes more sense to do this with young men and guns than with women and health care, right? I mean, no woman getting an abortion has killed a room full of people in seconds, right?”

    • 1mime says:

      YES, YES!!!!

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Reminds me of a twitter post I saw that went something like:

      “Abortion? BAN IT!

      Gay marriage? BAN IT!

      Birth control? BAN IT!

      Guns? No need to any control or restrictions. Banning never works, people will still find ways to get them’

  4. flypusher says:

    More on the research ban we previously discussed:

    http://www.vox.com/2015/10/6/9465649/gun-violence-research-cdc

  5. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Combining both lines of thought to this posting: Building from the model of the very effective anti-choice folks, a plan for an anti-gun movement:

    The Gun Control Movement Needs Its Own Pro-Life Fanatics:

    http://gawker.com/the-gun-control-movement-needs-its-own-pro-life-fanatic-1734711064?discussion_truncation=5&utm_expid=66866090-56.xSggy8zmSwG3vMsivr7rOg.2&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fgawker.com%2Fthe-gun-control-movement-needs-its-own-pro-life-fanatic-1734711064%3Fdiscussion_truncation%3D5

    “This doesn’t just mean marches and protests. It means constant marches and protests, and open and blatant harassment of your political opponents. It means protesting at the homes of gun manufacturing company executives and trying to shut down gun stores. It means very publicly making a scene at as many gun shops as possible, and personally attacking—verbally, but bordering on physically—people trying to enter those stores to legally purchase guns.

    After all, the point of screaming at women outside a clinic isn’t to erect a legal barrier to abortion access, it’s to prevent that woman from getting an abortion, and to dissuade others from even considering it. It’s to prevent abortion from being considered a legitimate option. Aren’t there a couple thousand gun control activists out there passionate enough to want to stand outside gun shops and provoke confrontations with open-carry wingnuts?

    It also means going all-in on gore. It means waving gruesome photos of dead children in the faces of Republican legislators, gun store owners, and gun manufacturers. This is where the conservatives shine. Good liberals are too squeamish to look past the police tape. They worry that if they focus, up close and without flinching, on the goriest details of the carnage, it’ll glorify violence, or worse, inspire future killers. Maybe, but it’ll also scare the shit out of future killers’ mothers before they fill their houses with guns, to feel safe.

    Anti-abortion activists revel in gore. Gun control advocates hoist signs with pictures of smiling cherubic kids, taken before their lives were cut short. Anti-abortion activists put up billboards with graphic photos of blood and fetal tissue. There will need to be graphic photographs of bullet-riddled corpses.”

    • 1mime says:

      People are getting hurt. People are dying. Doing nothing is no longer an option.

    • flypusher says:

      “Combining both lines of thought to this posting: Building from the model of the very effective anti-choice folks, a plan for an anti-gun movement:”

      Don’t forget secretly taken, selectively edited videos that make people with guns look like bloodthirsty barbarians who think shooting people is the best thing ever.

    • 1mime says:

      More are calling for activism to reduce gun violence. Lisa Falkenberg writes about how people are accepting the challenge, in her op-ed: “Gun Advocacy Is not a lost cause”

      http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODE/HoustonChronicle/LandingPage/LandingPage.aspx?href=SEhDLzIwMTUvMTAvMDc.&pageno=MTc.&entity=QXIwMTcwOA..&view=ZW50aXR5

    • 1mime says:

      OK, second attempt:

      “http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/falkenberg/article/Gun-control-in-Texas-is-not-a-lost-cause-Here-s-6554786.php”

      People are no longer accepting passivity. They want action. Be a part of “they”, not “them”.

    • johngalt says:

      The problem is that the fringes of the pro-life movement that waves posters of aborted fetuses and screams at women entering clinics is insane (note – being pro-life is NOT insane, but this sort of behavior is). Most people who would like common sense gun regulations are also not insane. They have jobs and families and other responsibilities, plus a sense of decorum that precludes screaming at legislators or following Wayne LaPierre around with pictures of dead children. It’s hard to make protest marches when you’ve got to get the kids to soccer practice.

    • “This doesn’t just mean marches and protests. It means constant marches and protests, and open and blatant harassment of your political opponents. It means protesting at the homes of gun manufacturing company executives and trying to shut down gun stores. It means very publicly making a scene at as many gun shops as possible, and personally attacking—verbally, but bordering on physically—people trying to enter those stores to legally purchase guns.”

      Really? How long do you think gun owners would put up with such persecution and harassment? The really silly thing about picking on gun owners, the elephant in the room so to speak, is that they *have guns*. At the end of the day, some significant proportion of them will simply decide that enough is enough. So perhaps you really ought to think this plan all the way through. I grew up in an era of political violence and political assassinations. I have no desire to see us run down that path again, but only an idiot would be so foolish as to think it *can’t* happen again. Politicians like Obama and H. Clinton who demonstrate a willful desire to bypass the legislative process in pursuit of such persecution are in truth treading a very fine, very dangerous line. It’s as if they are completely oblivious. Like they’re juggling live grenades in a crowded room, but for some strange reason think they’re playing with fluffy tennis balls. Frankly, it gives me the heebie-jeebies. It’s nuts.

      • 1mime says:

        Come on, Tracy, EO are legal and have been used by Presidents forever….including Republican Presidents. The only reason for ever using an EO, however, is when the legislative process breaks down. When the sensible, small gun legislation failed following Sandy Hook, that clearly illustrated to me and many others that NO legislation, however effective, however narrow, would Ever be acceptable to the NRA and those within the organization who hold very conservative views.

        For the record, I think what Hillary has proposed is sensible and I support it. It does not take away your guns; it keeps more people safe and gives us one more tool to reduce gun violence. The list I prepared in a previous blog post (Don’t Tread on Me) are all proposals I strongly support. NONE of those will take guns away from gun owners who are responsible.
        You are smarter than following this line of bull, Tracy. I value your input and even when we disagree, I appreciate the effort you put into your comments. Help us reduce gun violence for our children, our people and our country.

      • 1mime, as I remarked somewhere else in this thread, the so-called “common sense” proposals being put forward are being advanced by people who *are* publicly committed to eliminating firearms ownership, period. Furthermore: 1) None of the measures proposed would have prevented Sandy Hook, or any other mass shooting, 2) include measures that are proven precursors to confiscation, and/or 3) are prima facie unenforceable and serve no end beyond harassing, persecuting (and/or criminalizing) law abiding gun owners. Additionally, obvious solutions like: a) ending gun free zones, or b) protecting such zones with armed security, and/or c) providing controlled access to such zones (including the use of metal detectors), go completely unaddressed by these very same people.

        So please, 1mime, why don’t *you* get *serious,* and help us reduce gun violence for our children, our people and our country.

      • 1mime says:

        Given the chance, reason will reign in changes to reduce gun violence. If you read what I personally posted as workable ideas, my position is clearly laid out. It will undoubtedly evolve but never will I support seizing all guns. It is both unreasonable and unnecessary. It is also ridiculous. Mass killings will be very difficult to prevent. That is certain. The other thing that is certain is reincarnation isn’t real. These children and people who have been slaughtered will never be able to sign a petition or march in a protest. They are dead. I will happily add your recommendations to the growing list of suggestions being considered. Do you not believe that think calmer heads wouldn’t prevail in the development of gun legislation? Again, if our Congress refused to approve the Sandy Hook legislation, do you really think they would pass legislation to seize all your guns? No.

        I am deadly serious and I am personally committed to doing all that I can to support initiatives and legislation to combat gun violence. I welcome all of your ideas to the discussion and I repeat: No One Wants To Take Away All Your Guns. NOT gonna happen, Tracy. What better happen is progress on reasonable legislation. The tide is turning on this issue, and we need people in the effort like yourself who bring knowledge and workable ideas to the table as well as to establish reasonable boundaries. Why not be a part of this effort?

      • flypusher says:

        “Really? How long do you think gun owners would put up with such persecution and harassment? The really silly thing about picking on gun owners, the elephant in the room so to speak, is that they *have guns*. At the end of the day, some significant proportion of them will simply decide that enough is enough. ”

        I’m pretty sure that shooting at protestors who aren’t breaking any laws,even if they are being totally obnoxious A-holes, would fall under the headings of assault with a deadly weapon or attempted murder or some form of homocide charge.

      • johngalt says:

        “How long do you think gun owners would put up with such persecution and harassment? The really silly thing about picking on gun owners, the elephant in the room so to speak, is that they *have guns*.”

        Methinks that anyone who would respond to verbal harassment by shooting at the speaker is exactly the sort of person who should not be permitted to own guns.

      • jg and fly, you’ll note I listed politicians as potential targets, not protesters. I don’t think most of the folks who would react in such a way would target their fellow citizens (although Timothy McVeigh is an obvious exception); however most people regards politicians as a separate class, and therefore fair game.

        Imagine, if you will, that somebody like Carol Bowne of NJ, protected only by court order, is brutally stabbed to death by her ex whilst awaiting a gun permit that never came. Let’s further imagine she has a younger brother. Let’s say younger brother is an ex-infantryman, formerly the designated marksmen for his unit. He’s fresh home from the sandbox as the result of a medical discharge stemming from a mild TBI he received as the result of standing too close to an IED, the very same IED that turned his best buddy into red mist and Bar-B-Q’ed the Master Sargent he worshiped as a surrogate father, since his own dad died of cancer when he was 16 years old. Let’s posit he’s not quite right in the head, is having a very hard time adjusting to life in civil society, can’t hold down a job, is despairingly angry in general, and takes the loss of his sister *very* personally. Her death is the last straw for him; he’s completely untethered. But he’s fully operational, retains all his skills, and can still shoot the nuts off a gnat at 800 yd.s. And he fixates on whatever politician, at whatever level, that he views as responsible for the nonsensical law that got his sister gutted like a fish. I think you can do the math from there. The way people like Obama and Clinton are running their mouths, it’s only a matter of time…

      • flypusher says:

        That sort of scenario can also go the other way- someone’s young child is murdered in a mass shooting by someone who never should have legally obtained a gun, blames the NRA and the local Congressperson who gets a lot of support from them, snaps and decides to hoist them on their own petards…….

      • 1mime says:

        Isn’t part of the problem, Fly, that those empowered to enact legislation that could reduce gun violence seem to be so isolated from real harm? Not that I’m advocating that, but, absent a moral center, it seems that it is all rhetoric, funding, and scoring that matters most to the Republicans. I posted this story about legislation proposed by PA Repub. Rep. Tim Murphy, a psychologist who has 40 years of military service and knows what he’s talking about and yet HB 2646 has gone nowhere. This is not a simplistic problem and the solutions are complex and will necessarily involve many, many areas of life. We should start here with HB2646.

        https://www.yahoo.com/politics/guns-congress-and-murphys-law-090049362.html

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Tthor…you certainly have given me a new argument to think about and digest.

        We cannot have gun laws because some people who own guns are crazy and will shoot people who endorse gun laws.

        Well…there ya go.

      • 1mime says:

        Don’t ya see, Homer, that is a perfectly logical, circular argument – all we need to do is arm everyone and there will be no more mass shootings!!!

      • 1mime, HH, if we were talking about “gun laws” that might actually have some hope of reducing “gun violence”, that would be one thing. But that’s not what we are talking about. We are talking about measures that will do absolutely nothing to reduce gun violence, and instead seem explicitly designed to harass, inconvenience, criminalize, and otherwise persecute law abiding gun owners. That’s entirely different, and it’s not going to end well.

        1mime, we are always going to have mass shootings. The question is whether anything can reasonably be done to mitigate the problem to some extent. Since you are so serious about this issue, and so bent on measures that lead to confiscation, let’s just cut to the chase. Here’s a cheeky bit from the folks at reason.com for your viewing pleasure:

      • 1mime says:

        “since you’re so bent on measures that lead to confiscation”

        You know what Tracy? You haven’t read a thing I’ve said, or, worse, haven’t thought about it with the seriousness it deserves. How many times do I have to state I’m not in favor or confiscating everyone’s guns does it take to get past your blinders? How many times have I urged a rational approach that is comprehensive and includes addressing the root cause of gun violence – human behavior? I am deadly serious about this problem and have tried to share some suggestions that offer a great starting point for serious dialogue. Fly & I both posted info on HB246 that deals with mentally ill people, was proposed by a very well qualified Republican, and would address a specific problem area. We have to start somewhere because things aren’t getting better, they’re getting worse. Why? Because people who are able to shape and influence effective legislation have drawn a line in the sand and are committed to obstructing every idea, period. Since that is the camp you’ve aligned yourself with Tracy, I guess we’ll have to restrict our exchanges to good movies we’ve seen. Something real serious. I’m not going to continue to defend a position any more that I have stated and restated so many times.

  6. 1mime says:

    Ok, “kinda, sort of” linked to the pro-choice discussion………

    CA Governor Jerry Brown has been a substantive leader. I wish he was 20 years younger so he could run for President!

    This week he signed legislation regarding terminally ill people’s right to die. Today he signed equal pay for equal work legislation. The rationale (as if we didn’t ALL know this) was a study in CA in 2014 that documented that women doing the same job as males, earned 84 cents to a man’s $1.00. That will no longer be legal in CA. Yea for all the women. Go CA!

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Mime, dude, aren’t you originally from California?

      • 1mime says:

        Nope, and it’s “dudess” (-: Born in N.O., LA. Raised on grits, gumbo, and crawfish. Today, however, I would better “fit” the CA mode given my interest in womens’ rights, the environment, and other liberal points of view. LA was dominated by the Democratic Party during my years there so that’s where I cut my liberal wisdom teeth but live in TX now….which isn’t a great political fit but I adapt best I can and speak up when I need to. I’ve never been shy about that! The value of growing up in LA when I did was exposure to a vibrant culture, great cuisine, and a political education like none other. And, omg, the bread – boy do I miss that! Crisp crust and soft and airy in the center….Throw some shrimp in there and, voila! Happiness.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Just from looking at that link I am afraid to click on it.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I can easily say I’ve never clicked on a link that anyone provided on this blog unless they also provided some level of detail about what it is.

        Who knows where you all have been?

        Sincerely, I much prefer when you smart folks give some information and interpretation of what I’m about to see and then provide a link if I want to follow up.

      • 1mime says:

        I certainly can’t vouch for where TX has been….but I can tell you that this link will make you smile.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I’m already smiling, so opening the link is no longer necessary!

    • 1mime says:

      Cummon, TX! You know what a menace to society those little old grandmas are! If ya can’t trust ’em with Sudafed, how in Heaven would ya be able to trust em with ammo?

  7. EJ says:

    Off-topic:

    http://www.arkansasmatters.com/news/local-news/update-conway-police-arrest-boy-14-in-online-school-threat

    The website where Harper-Mercer posted a warning before he carried out the Umpqua attack has been flooded with warnings of other attacks, all (so far) fake and intended either as parody or in order to provide a smokescreen and waste police time.

    One of the people who posted such a warning has been taken into custody and “may face charges of first-degree terrorist threatening.”

    It’s interesting to see that this is now being regarded as terrorism, rather than a series of isolated, unpredictable (but at the same time entirely predictable) motiveless events.

    • 1mime says:

      I daresay that given the number of random mass killings by disturbed males (notice – NO girls l…what does that say…), law enforcement cannot ignore posted threats. These could be real and law enforcement is imminently more justified in pursuing these self-statements of hateful violent intent than they were in arresting and cuffing a young male who had brought a clock to school. In the case of threats made on public media, it is absolutely necessary to check them out. If for no other reason, to identify young men who may have tendencies towards violence. If I were their parent, I would want to know.

      • BigWilly says:

        Males are typically marginalized by society for non conformance, willfull or otherwise. You’re the master of empathy and understanding “otherness,” why can’t you grok this? Instead of addressing these emotional issues with young males you use them to force laws upon us that we don’t need or want.

      • 1mime says:

        You may be correct, BW, but it seems that it is the few rather than the many who are taking such extreme action.

        How would you handle this problem in its current state of magnitude? What would you change? It’s not just a matter of empathy, it’s concern about our society and how much anger exists. Fly said it best, America is broken. How would you fix it, BW?

      • BigWilly says:

        I suppose I could always teach the kids in the neighborhood how to play the guitar. There’s always some way to get involved. I’ve gotten the “whole world’s against you and nobody gives a flying flea flicker whether you live or die” blues before. It’s survivable, but you come out with glow in the dark scars.

      • 1mime says:

        You know, BW, teaching kids how to play the guitar (or any musical instrument) is a terrific contribution. There are many children and teens who don’t have anything fun or positive in their lives. Their parents may be too busy or unconcerned, and kids end up doing things that are risky. Music is a wonderful venue for passion, energy, and expression. I wish I had a talent in that area, but all I can do is enjoy other’s music.

        Act on that idea, BW! You will have fun and so will the kids. And, who knows, maybe the time you spend with some young person will make a big difference in their lives. It doesn’t always have to be “big brother’s watching you”, or cost a lot of money, or be very complicated, rather, it’s sharing of yourself and it makes the world a better place. Good idea, BW!

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, I blame the prevalence of the online world for society’s alienation. Instead of uniting people, it just leads to arguments and bitterness, and the reinforcement of negative thoughts.

      • 1mime says:

        It can, Tutta. It can also be a force for good. Like guns, if used with evil intent, you will get a bad outcome. I lay more fault on the shoulders of those with extreme views. I am not able to engage socially as much as I would like due to my caregiver responsibilities. The internet has become a wonderful instructional tool on a broad spectrum, and allows me to interact with intelligent people on subjects that matter to me. Maybe it’s just because I am “fully formed”, and older and thus not vulnerable to irrational arguments, or maybe it’s because I enjoy learning. Whatever the reason, the internet, just like guns, are what you make of them. Kids, on the other hand, are impressionable. The internet for an unstable young person may be de-stabilizing rather than a positive force in their life.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Tutt…I cannot believe you said that and you are wrong, as is everything you have ever stood for.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Sorry, HT, but the meaning of your post escapes me. Please rephrase it.

    • 1mime says:

      I hate to keep posting about guns on this blog, but this NYT article lays out one of the major problems with controlling and identification of potential candidates for gun violence, and I want everyone to have an opportunity to read it. IOW, if the government (ATF) were allowed to use the information they have, law enforcement would have a very effective tool to track and identify problematic individuals. Notice this is one of several good recommendations by the Every Town organization to address gun violence.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/07/opinion/who-the-nra-really-speaks-for.html?emc=edit_ty_20151006&nl=opinion&nlid=41048410

    • Crogged says:

      Went to school in Louisiana in the early seventies, when school busing was instituted to address racial imbalances. Any call to the police station threatening bombing resulted in the entire school getting dismissed that day. Hardly had any classes during that first week and I suppose the operator learned how to tell a 12 year old was disguising his voice.

  8. parhiscan says:

    What part of the Republicans position on growth and prosperity are you still tied to. Kansas has been a real life experience in that endeavor and it appears to be an abject failure and frightening in its implications for the rest of the country. Kansas is heading for the status of an American Bangladesh

  9. Rob Ambrose says:

    Back on guns.

    http://m.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/boy-kills-girl-over-puppy/story-e6frg6so-1227559630904

    It’s unfortunate that the many responsible gun owners get tarred with the same brush as the clearly irresponsible ones, but what can you do? Sure its unfair to foist restrictions on them. But its even more unfair for people to lose their lives simply because responsible gun owners don’t want to be burdened by some extra paperwork, even if it’s unfair that they have to do that paperwork in the first place.

    Obviously, since this was a shotgun, many of the most necessary gun laws (such as severely restricting assault weapons) aren’t applicable. But perhaps if this weapon were insured, and as such, its owner would be indirectly responsible for how it’s used, they would have taken more time to properly secure it.

    • 1mime says:

      I would say that responsible gun owners are rarely the problem…..unless they buck the need for changes to reduce gun availability and tightening background checks. Then, IMHO, they are part of the problem, like it or not. In the link I posted which provided a history of the NRA, it clearly began as gun safety/education organization “aimed” at hunters. In the late 70s, when a more conservative element took control of the organization, the focus changed to 2nd amendment rights. Reasonable people who are concerned about gun violence have no interest in “taking” peoples’ guns from them. That scare tactic is without substance. But, reasonable, concerned people do want to make gun purchases more carefully checked and controlled. This is not only reasonable, it is smart.

      I posted a couple of interesting “gun” links on the blog post “Do Not Tread On Me” this morning that you will find interesting.

      • EJ says:

        The phrase “responsible gun owner” is only useful if it is defined in such a way that Harper-Mercer, Lanza or Roof can be recognised as irresponsible before they carry out their shootings. Otherwise it’s just a phrase that means “person who has not (yet) needed to be disavowed.”

        Looking at Harper-Mercer, Lanza and Roof before they carried out their atrocities, what red flags were there? Which clear signs could people point to and say “this person is not a responsible gun owner”?

      • 1mime says:

        Warning flags abounded for Harper-Mercer. They may not for all who commit gun violence. Part of the problem, as I stated in my response to Tuttabella, is that information is not shared that could actually be beneficial to the individual, and in some cases, to society at large.

        We will never eradicate gun violence (or other violence….there are other weapons), but we are not doing enough with our gun background checks nor with identification of mentally disturbed/or highly dysfunctional people. We have to try, EJ.

        What have you seen across the pond that seems to be more effective than how America is handling this problem?

        Here’s background on Harper-Mercer:

        http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2015/10/new_details_emerge_on_umpqua_c.html

    • johngalt says:

      Perhaps it is going to die out, but the last Oregon shooting has triggered a lot of anger in people, more so than other recent incidents. I’m getting a sense that people are getting close to a breaking point on this issue. While the country is awash in guns, the number of households that own guns has been dropping for decades. If the gun advocates don’t wise up and accept common sense restrictions, then they might find themselves on the wrong side of something more draconian.

      Personally, I think we should move from a negative system (in which we try to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, which is clearly a failure) to an affirmative one in which we try to figure out who should have them, with more of an eye to the often-ignored “well-regulated militia” part of the second amendment.

      • Tuttabella says:

        John Galt, your suggested “affirmative” approach sounds even more restrictive than the “negative” one, as if you propose that ownership and use of weapons should be limited to only a select few.

        What you call the “negative” system says everyone who wants a weapon should have one, except for the few who shouldn’t (convicted felons, etc.) It’s the more expansive and inclusive system.

      • johngalt says:

        Yes, it is, Tutt and that is exactly what I am proposing. Public safety officers and members of the military (current or retired) have the kind of training to be a part of a “well-regulated militia.” Boot camp dropouts do not and should not be able to amass a dozen-plus guns. Those without obvious criteria should have to submit to more extensive (again, affirmative) background checks that prove why they should be able to own firearms rather than the present, negative, checks that merely ask if they are in a database that prohibits it. (I note that the background check I underwent to get into the TSA Pre-check program, which allows me to keep my shoes on when going through airport screening was more extensive than the one I’d need to buy an AR-15.) Training requirements should be increased – proper handling, storage – and gun locks should be required. People who want CCLs should be trained in tactical awareness – what to do with it when confronted by a threat.

        In short, we should expect those people owning guns in our society to have training consistent with a member of a “well-regulated militia”, like the amendment says.

        And, no, I don’t expect any of this to actually happen.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        John Galt, it would seem the Oregon shooter was well-versed in the use of weapons and had “some” military experience, in addition to having nothing that would disqualify him, such as a criminal record or history of mental illness.

        What about a little old lady who lives alone and wants to be able to defend herself against an intruder?

        According to your proposal, who would be more likely to be granted use of a weapon?

        Wouldn’t the young man with weapons experience be a more likely militia candidate than the little old lady?

      • 1mime says:

        Tutta, I understand where you are going, and, I agree about the valid need for self defense. The example you offered about the OR shooter is not accurate. Please read the link below from an OR newspaper about Chris Harper-Mercer’s background and see if you feel the same way. The saddest thing is that he was a poster-child for someone who might go off the deep end. Adding to his problems is the fact that his mother was obviously part of the problem and had little contact with his father. Divorce may separate parents, but it never should separate us from our children.

        Addressing gun violence will require a broad effort across many disciplines – including high schools, community programs, mental health, our military, etc. This young man needed help, badly. Had someone, somewhere along the way probed more deeply into his multiple issues, or cross-referenced his multiple problem areas, ten people, including himself, would be alive. We can not and should not ignore mentally disturbed individuals. Our lives are intertwined in social, religious, educational, and recreational activities. Better background checks, better sharing and cross-checking of information, limited access for those who deserve it – are part of the solution. The bigger problem is anger management and mental dysfunction. If you don’t address the latter, new gun laws won’t help reach far enough.

        http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2015/10/new_details_emerge_on_umpqua_c.html

      • tuttabellamia says:

        John Galt, according to your affirmative system, Chris Mercer might very well have received a seal of approval to own maybe a handful of weapons, with which he still would have committed his crime. When there’s a will there’s a way.

      • flypusher says:

        Tutta, why couldn’t the lady in your example take a CHL course and qualify (we’ll assume she has no criminal history or mental health issues)?

        As for the Oregon NJ, there are stories that he had known mental health issues.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Actually, Fly, the little old lady in question did take the CHL course and passed with flying colors. She’s been well-versed in the use of firearms for years.

        In other words, the system for qualifying that John Galt proposes already exists, at least for carrying firearms out in public. The only thing that WOULD keep her from carrying is if she were a convicted felon, a restriction which also already exists.

        Now, keeping firearms at home is another story. It does not required a CHL.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime and Fly, I read the link provided. The problem I have with this diagnosis is — how do you define mental illness? To be socially awkward, or to hate religion, or to be a disciplinary problem for your parents, even a combination of all of the above, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to shoot up a school.

        As Mime suggests, I do think parents and loved ones should counsel people who seem troubled, but to diagnose anyone with the above problems as mentally ill and therefore incapable of responsibly handling a firearm seems unnecessary and unfair.

        In the case of this young man it turned out to be the case that he was mentally ill enough to go off the deep end with his firearms, but he was a very special case.

        Also, how do you define a credible threat? People post all kinds of stuff online — posters furious at each other over a political argument that escalates into something personal, etc. I don’t think we should call the cops over every little thing — otherwise chron.com would have its hands full dealing with false alarms.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree that it is difficult to diagnose mental illness, but this young man had flags all over his short life. Ideally, his mother, with whom he lived, should have been the one to seek help for him – she aided and abetted her son through gun activities that any rational parent having a son with his history, would never have done. If there were the ability to cross-check information, the fact that Harper-Mercer acquired so many guns should have triggered a concern if not negated his ability to purchase multiple weapons. I don’t think it’s defensible to say there were not multiple indications of serious mental dysfunction – not that the condition couldn’t have been treated, but, of course, that wasn’t done that we know of.

        As for reporting threats on the website. In a small town that has just experienced a random mass killing, I still maintain that law enforcement not only had a right to check these new threats out, but an obligation to a grieving, shocked community. And, I will repeat, if I were one of these young people’s mother (or at my age, “grandmother”), I would want to know so I could help in any way possible. In this day and time, law enforcement would be criticized more heavily if they didn’t act cautiously, then if they pulled these kids in for a good grilling.

      • johngalt says:

        The Oregon shooter had been to a school for children with behavioral and/or psychological problems. He was discharged by the army only 5 weeks into basic training for not meeting “minimum administrative standards,” whatever that means. He was known to be antisocial. He was the poster boy for someone who should never have been allowed to own guns.

        Tutt, I’m going to make a couple of general comments that are not intended to be specifically about you or your situation. Someone who feels safer having a gun for self-protection is usually deluding themselves. Statistics, many of which are incomplete because of a NRA-supported, Congress-approved ban on using federal funds to even study the problem of gun violence, indicate that both suicides and homicides are more common (far more so for suicides) in houses with guns. Insecurely stored guns are a major cause of accidental shootings. A gun owner can be fastidious about storing them and be great at a shooting range, but a “bad guy” in your house at night is not a dark silhouette, but a living, moving, thinking person. Does your heart start pounding when you hear an unexplained noise at night? A bit different than standing on the range, and that’s what I meant by tactical training.

        The requirements for owning a gun in an affirmative environment have nothing to do with age, gender, race, or wealth. It has everything to do with proving that you are not going to point it at another human being except as the very last of last resorts and, should you have to do so, you know what to do next.

      • 1mime says:

        JG – In a letter to the editor in today’s Houston Chronicle, the author suggests that the second amendment be honored and enforced in the original intent of the founders in response to endemic gun violence. He would require that “gun owners be required to report for militia drill and training every weekend”, in conformance with the second amendment. Everyone else except for police and active duty military would have to surrender their weapons.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Thanks, John Galt. Actually, speaking of my own immediate circle, it already is an absolute last resort. I don’t think anyone should assume that the most vociferous gun rights activist is automatically a gun-twirling person who “shoots first, asks questions later.”

      • tuttabellamia says:

        John Galt, we should probably have a blog entry titled HOW I BECAME PRO-GUN.

        But that would be TMI. 🙂

      • johngalt says:

        Speaking for me, I don’t think that most gun aficionados are the shoot-first kind. But I’m tired of hearing about gun rights and would like to hear more about gun responsibilities.

  10. 1mime says:

    This 2014 study involving approximately 55,000 females has some interesting statistics on the safety of abortion. Turns out, there is less than a .025 percent chance of a serious complication following an abortion, or, approximately the same rate as a colonoscopy….which is routine, and seldom performed in a hospital setting. Which, of course, debunks the whole basis for the requirement that abortion centers be equipped to meet hospital standards.

    http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Citation/2015/01000/Incidence_of_Emergency_Department_Visits_and.29.aspx

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Are they even saying that’s the reason for the rule?

      It’s so blatantly transparent an attempt to simply limit abortion I figured they at least wouldn’t insult our intelligence and say its for the health of the woman.

      Abortion is a simple, out patient procedure, if done early enough.

      • BigWilly says:

        They could do it in a nail salon.

      • 1mime says:

        That’s a really helpful suggestion, BW.

      • 1mime says:

        This is the basis being used by many states (including TX) to close abortion clinics. They cannot afford to meet these stringent requirements which has essentially forced the closure of over 30 clinics in TX. There are 10 remaining abortion clinics in the entire state of TX. Sadly, the courts have upheld the states on this “safety” premise in too many cases. Obviously, this is not “really” about the health and safety of women; rather, it is another tool being utilized to close clinics.

        In TX, this requirement for hospital standards, OR, for doctors who serve in abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals (which are Rarely granted), has been accepted by the SCOTUS.

      • BigWilly says:

        I think I saw something the other day relating to the “undue burden” and the SCOTUS docket.

      • johngalt says:

        Sadly, Rob, their willingness to insult our intelligence knows no bounds. In response to the SCOTUS stay allowing Texas clinics to remain open, Rick Perry said, “I am confident the court will ultimately uphold these common-sense measures to protect the health and safety of Texas women…”. Our current governor, Greg Abbott, never one to be left out, stated, “Texas will continue to fight for higher-quality health care standards for women.”

        So, yes, they are indeed pretending this is about quality women’s health care.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Every piece of data on the issue will show that carrying a baby to term giving birth is an order of several magnitudes more dangerous for the woman than an abortion.

      Something like 30 times more likely to die or have serious medical conditions resulting from pregnancy and childbirth.

      If any experience had 30% of men had to go through a significant wounding of a six inch stabbing and slicing of the abdomen (c-section) and 75% of men had perineal ripping (vaginal delivery), abortion would be an affirmative stand-your-ground self-defense argument.

      • 1mime says:

        Hey Homer, don’t forget that 7-9# ball that women carry and sleep with for 9 months! Woman rather than man was wisely designed for the birth process. Any man here who has attended a woman who is giving childbirth irrevocably understands and is grateful to be able to watch the process from the sidelines.

  11. texan5142 says:

    “The bottom line is that American taxpayers are being forced to fund an organization that provides services that are morally repugnant to a substantial percentage of said taxpayers. That’s just not right.”

    Oh for Pete’s sake Tracy, should we start a list of all the things that I and other Americans find “morally repugnant to a substantial percentage of said taxpayers. ”

    War
    Death penalty
    Tax built football stadiums
    Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert’s tax paid salary.
    War planes the military does not even want.
    Health insurance for those in congress.
    My tax dollars going to Israel.

  12. Hmm. Interesting (and horribly distressing) that medical removal of a lifeless fetus is regarded as an abortion in some circles. I mourn your loss, and I am glad that in the end your family grew as you wished, Chris.

    For my own part, although I strongly disagree with the practice of abortion, if we are to remain a “free country,” then we have have to allow people to make their own decisions in such matters. Even when I (and a sizable fraction of the population as a whole) believe that such a decision is most often a terrible mistake (or a mortal sin, depending on your religious leanings). It’s really as simple as that; it’s not a morality question, it’s a liberty question. To be free, free people have to be able to make their own decisions (including mistakes).

    That said, it seems to me that we ought to outlaw late term abortions for any but the direst medical necessity. As soon as an unborn child reaches a level of development in the womb that affords it *any* opportunity of survival outside the womb, then that child deserves every shot at survival. (Even when doing so might put a dent in fetal organ harvest profits.)

    BTW, Chris, a quick digression on the subject of cognitive dissonance: How is it that we can insist that people be allowed to end the life of an unborn child, no questions asked, but that somehow we can’t trust those very same people to manage their own affairs when it comes to the ownership of inanimate objects, viz. firearms? How very curious. One smells a (very sick in the head) rat.

    • BTW, Chris, here’s an article on another person whose negatively impacted by “politics… intruding” into the most personal affairs of life:

      http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/crime/2015/06/04/woman-fatally-stabbed-berlin-twp/28461361/

    • flypusher says:

      “How is it that we can insist that people be allowed to end the life of an unborn child, no questions asked, but that somehow we can’t trust those very same people to manage their own affairs when it comes to the ownership of inanimate objects, viz. firearms? ”

      I don’t see requirements like having insurance and a license as a way of saying that I don’t know how to safely manage the driving of a car. There’s no good reason for gun owners to draw such a conclusion.

      • Really Fly? Do suppose it would be reasonable for you to have insurance and a license to exercise your right to free speech so that you can post in this forum? Or are your 2A rights somehow less important to you than your 1A rights? A quick history lesson for you: your 2A rights are the last guarantor of your 1A rights. You might want to think on that for just a bit, before so freely disposing of your 2A rights.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Tracy, the guarantor of the 1st amendment is most definitely NOT a bunch of gun toting civilians.

        The only real reason to own guns is that you just like owning guns. And that’s fine. Nothing wrong with that.

        But don’t make up grandoise foolish reasons like the 2nd amendment guarantees the right to free speech. The vast, vast majority of diehard 2nd amendment supporters would do nothing to protect MY speech, as they seem only interested in free speech that agrees with their positions.

      • johngalt says:

        Absolutely agreed, Rob. There exists an absurd mythology surrounding guns in this country that some white-hatted savior is going to defend his family/town/country against government tyranny. Perhaps, in 1776 a group of people could fend off a distant and distracted power, but that is delusional today.

      • flypusher says:

        “Do suppose it would be reasonable for you to have insurance and a license to exercise your right to free speech so that you can post in this forum? ”

        If my words ever become capable of slaughtering a room full of children in a few seconds, then yes, they should require a license and liability insurance for me to use. Otherwise, the comparison is specious.

      • objv says:

        Just one of the videos:

      • johngalt says:

        Correction, objv. This is one of the highly edited and redacted propaganda pieces for a stridently pro-life organization with no qualms about covertly videotaping targets without their knowledge. Someone skilled could take an interview with Mother Theresa and make her sound like Hitler’s mentor.

      • You know, you guys (Fly, Rob, johng) are just plain silly (or maybe just hopelessly obtuse). Certainly guns are often a proximate cause of social unpleasantry (although the Tutsis discovered, to their dismay and horror, that $10 Walmart-class machetes will suffice, so long as the targeted are unarmed), but as just about every government through history has discovered, words are ultimately far more deadly. Words are deadly because they bear the freight of ideas. Sometimes those ideas are just plain evil. Sometimes they are subversive and dangerous to the powers that be. And when conditions are ripe, the freight transmitted by those words can be frightfully contagious. That’s why just about every government around the world (and throughout history), excepting the U.S., governs speech closely. That’s true even true of Obama’s model for gun control, the UK, where censorship is alive and well.

        Words kill, gentlemen. Ask the 6+ million dead of the Holocaust. Ask the 10’s of millions killed in the Russian communist revolution and subsequent purges. Ask the 40+ million victims of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Ask the 2 million casualties of the Khmer Rouge. In all these cases the victims were unarmed. So then ask them if they wish they could have fought back.

        Read your Hobbes, kids. Throughout the west civilization emerged from the Dark Ages under the control of the men who most ruthlessly wielded weapons. The peasantry were forcibly disbarred from owning weapons; anyone who argued the point ended up with a pointy, edged implement run through their gizzard by the local feudal lord. An armed citizenry and the freedoms (speech, association, property, etc.) that go with it have never been the norm of history.

        We are, in fact, an accident of history. British colonialists *had* to be armed, lest they be dispatched by (naturally disgruntled) native inhabitants, or those nasty Frenchies (and their native minions). That led to some serious unintended consequences for the Crown, and here we are. The U.S. is one of a tiny handful of states over the course of history arising more or less free from the get go. (The Athenian polis and early Republican Rome spring to mind, notwithstanding their dependence on slave labor.)

        So, boys and girls, if you want to turn yourselves into helots at the mercy of a hopefully benign leadership aristocracy with a newly minted monopoly on the implements of force, knock your lights out. (Heck, you’re halfway there already.) Just don’t ask for my cooperation. And when we are all disarmed, and the armed agents of the government come to your home politely (or not so politely, as the case may be) asking for an explanation of some intemperate remark you’ve made in a forum like this, for heaven’s sake, don’t complain to me.

      • Bruce R says:

        johngalt,

        “Someone skilled could take an interview with Mother Theresa and make her sound like Hitler’s mentor.”

        Christopher Hitchens did a pretty good job of making Mother Theresa look like Hitler. She did go to a poverty stricken country and tell them that birth control is a sin. How many miserable lives did she bring into a world of povery and disease?

      • flypusher says:

        “And when we are all disarmed, …”

        Speaking of hopelessly obtuse, how many times have I or Rob or JG or Homer or Chris or anyone else stated that our goal is to disarm everyone? To spare you any suspense, the answer is zip, zero, zilch. But if it ever comes to that disarming, people like you with that black and white view that even common sense proposals to limit gun access by the wrong people is the equivalent of confiscation, you can look in the mirror when looking for where to cast some of the blame. It’s like you people are the protagonists in a classic Greek tragedy, where you fear something so much that you do a bunch of crazy things to prevent it, but instead facilitate it.

        As for words being deadly, yes they can, in the LONG TERM. Yes, I can espouse dangerous ideas, but others have plenty of chances to counter them. Requiring licenses and insurance would serve a similar function in countering irresponsible use of guns.

      • Fly, I’m glad to hear you don’t want to “disarm everyone.” Unfortunately, the very folks who are carrying the water for the “common sense” proposals that you also support have stated publicly and repeatedly that eliminating all guns is *exactly* what they want. Furthermore, history clearly demonstrates that the “common sense” proposals put forth by such folks (most particularly the registration of firearms) have been necessary precursors to the subsequent *forced confiscation of firearms* in multiple countries around the world, including the UK and Australia. So I’m very sorry to have to say this, but you’re all wet. You can take your common sense proposals and shove them up… your ear. 😉

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Tracy – In the case of Australia, do you believe they are about to fall to a tyrant? Or do you believe the gun buyback tyrannical enough? To me it seems life continues down under, with sheep farmers and shrimps on the barbie. And they do have less worries about mass murder.

        How about the UK? I’ve never been there, but if they are terribly oppressed, let me know and I’ll never visit.

    • 1mime says:

      Golly, TThor! I was with you there for a bit until you stated: “(Even when doing so might put a dent in fetal organ harvest profits.)”

      What is it about federal law prohibits profiting from fetal tissue/organs that isn’t clear? You have bought into the whole Fiorina/PP BS which has been debunked by so many credible sources that one would think this outright distortion would be either a settled misrepresentation (at best) or outright lie. If anyone is guilty of selling for fetal tissue/organs for profits, it is punishable by the law, just like it would be if anyone used their gun to kill without cause.

      • objv says:

        Mime, I noticed that Fiorina made a mistake as soon as she uttered the words about PP. However, while the actual footage of the fetal dissection wasn’t shown, the videos made three things perfectly clear.

        1. Various personnel at PP were fine with haggling over the price of body parts and tried to insure that the maximum number of organs were harvested so that profits were maximized for each fetus.
        2. The doctors were willing to alter the abortion procedures to avoid crushing the organs that were preferred by the buyers. In many cases, especially when a woman had previously delivered, the babies were delivered intact and alive.
        3. Since the goal of the doctors was obtain larger parts of the fetus, the women having the abortions often had to endure more pain and trauma in the process – potentially affecting future fertility and causing complications.

        Believe it or not, the videos have not been thoroughly debunked. The company PP hired to analyze the videos said they had been tampered with. The company the pro-life group hired said they had not. I’d watch a few of them. It might change your mind; not to mention, turn your stomach.

      • 1mime says:

        The PP representative was very casual about a very serious subject. Even if she could have said things differently and under more appropriate circumstances, she was the object of a months-long sting by people who completely falsified their purpose and their identities.

        No, I have seen enough and read enough, I support PP, I believe Fiorina deliberately obfuscated the video content as has been attested to by the woman whose miscarriage was featured on the video, who also did not consent to being videoed. We agree to disagree on this subject.

        No more.

      • johngalt says:

        It all does sound horrible, objv, unless you remember that the tissue samples were being “sold” (at or below cost; profiting on human tissue sales is illegal) to qualified medical researchers investigating devastating diseases who had to go through a thorough review of the intended use via institutional ethics boards. The women donating this tissue must give informed consent.

        I get that you do not approve of abortion, but it is legal. Is not the use of such tissue making the best of a difficult decision? I just reviewed a research grant that uses fetal brain tissue to study an infection that kills 600,000 people a year. There were numerous scientific justifications for doing this with human rather than animal tissues.

        Or we could just be hyper-emotional and inflammatory…

        Hey, did you hear about how this group of people mutilated dead bodies? Literally, they cut them open, and poked around in them! They lopped parts off. And they kept going back to it for weeks, slowly, methodically abusing these bodies! Have you ever heard something so horrible?

        Or, did you hear how these nurses strapped people to tables and drained out their blood? I mean, not just an ounce or two, but like pints at a time. Huge bags of it. Then they sold it! They profited off of being vampires! And they don’t give the victims anything. Barbaric!

        (Or you could just call it cadaver dissection in Gross Anatomy and blood transfusions.)

      • objv says:

        JG, I thought the point was to determine if PP was illegally profiting from the sale of the organs or tissue. Isn’t it is the main reason they are being investigated?

        After viewing the videos, it is apparent that Planned Parenthood IS making a profit and that the organs are NOT being sold at or below cost. The PP representatives haggle as if they are eager to get as much per fetus as possible. The dealing includes making sure that they get compensated for each usable organ instead of a total price for each fetus sold.

        Don’t get me wrong, I realize that many discoveries have been made using fetal cells and I do not object to fetal tissue being used in labs any more than I would object to organ donation after death (assuming that proper permissions have been granted). However, when an organization begins to profit from the sale of organs from obtained from aborted, perfectly healthy fetuses and causing women to face a greater risk of complications; a line has been crossed and that organization should be subject to investigation.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Obj…I’m pretty sure that is almost exactly what is not found on this videos.

        “After viewing the videos, it is apparent that Planned Parenthood IS making a profit and that the organs are NOT being sold at or below cost.”

        That does not seem “apparent” to anyone who watched the videos and understands the process that takes place. I believe almost everyone (other than the folks who put out the video, the GOP candidates, and Fox News) reported that the $30 to $100 rate would more than likely still be at a loss for anyone providing this service and in a range that would certainly be reasonable and comparable to any other provider.

        Oddly, the edited videos that like to be shown by your side conveniently leave out:
        “Affiliates are not looking to make money by doing this. They’re looking to serve their patients and just make it not impact their bottom line.”

        “No one’s going to see this as a money making thing.”

        “Our goal, like I said, is to give patients the option without impacting our bottom line. The messaging is this should not be seen as a new revenue stream, because that’s not what it is.”

        Evidently, what is “apparent” to you is viewed through some less than objective lenses.

        A few states have already done the investigations of PP, and shockingly, they have found nothing upon which to follow up.

        I would venture to say that if it were so “apparent”, PP would have been shut down and all sorts of criminal charges would be included. I wonder why that has not happened?

      • 1mime, what is it about the fungible nature of U.S. currency that is unclear to you? If you come to me and ask me to loan you $2 to add to your 8$ so you can buy a $10 lunch, that doesn’t mean you get to say that I bought the drink and you bought sandwich and chips. In legal terms, those lunch dollars are hopelessly co-mingled. Taxpayer funding of PP is exactly the same; those dollars are hopelessly co-mingled. Similarly, the shell game by which 3rd parties pay PP for the privilege of be able to process donated tissue is just that: a shell game.

        The bottom line is that American taxpayers are being forced to fund an organization that provides services that are morally repugnant to a substantial percentage of said taxpayers. That’s just not right.

      • 1mime says:

        I can understand how you feel about this while still disagreeing with you. The ONLY area where federal dollars can be used by PP is through Medicaid in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the woman. That’s Law – The Hyde Amendment, as passed by Congress.

        There are plenty of places where federal and state dollars are spent that I don’t like and find repugnant. Executions are one. Subsidizing car races and alcohol production are two others….Water boarding prisoners and torture are anther. It is a long list. But, I live in a big country with a lot of other people who have different ideas and needs from my own. I try to remember that.

      • objv says:

        Homer, Have you watched the videos? I’ve seen three or four of them and they were enough to convince me that some of the personnel were trying to make a profit for PP. The fetal tissue is free to them and is dissected by an outside company. Even at $100 per organ, a fetus with three organs harvested nets $300 of almost pure profit to PP.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        “The bottom line is that American taxpayers are being forced to fund an organization that provides services that are morally repugnant to a substantial percentage of said taxpayers. That’s just not right.”

        Oh goodie…we now personally get to pick and choose exactly where our government spends money?

        We might need to look at the contracts the government has with Philip Morris.

        Hired mercenaries that kill for profit might be morally repugnant to some? Probably need to call the good folks at Blackwater/Academi.

        Heck, there is a pretty decent sized group of folks kind of upset about funding our military expeditions in middle eastern countries that never bothered to attack us.

        Then, for fun, you should probably realize the most of PP “funding from the gov’t” is in the form of repayments for medicare services rather than a line-item in a budget somewhere. You seem to be asking that the gov’t specify that one specific provider cannot be reimbursed for these non-abortion services that provide (often to women with no other convenient choices of providers).

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        “The fetal tissue is free to them and is dissected by an outside company. Even at $100 per organ, a fetus with three organs harvested nets $300 of almost pure profit to PP.”

        That is patently untrue, and if you have evidence that it is true, I suggest you contact the authorities immediately because selling fetal tissue for profit likely would result in some criminal charges.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        My ex gf worked in the coroners office. She would come home and discuss procedures like cracking open the sternum or being pooped on by a corpse with startling casualty.

        People who work with these things every day get a clinical detachment about such things that seem bizare to those of us that don’t.

        Considering anyone working at PP is almost certainly pro choice, and as such likely does not consider clumps of embryonic cells persons, its not at all surprising that they would discuss things so “callously”.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Oddly, I’m not seeing the GOP, the group of Catholic Bishops, or our own religious folks here arguing that the government is “establishing state supported religion” with fungible dollars by providing food and money to food banks operated by churches, which undoubtedly frees up other church dollars for proselytizing.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        “The bottom line is that American taxpayers are being forced to fund an organization that provides services that are morally repugnant to a substantial percentage of said taxpayers. That’s just not right.”

        Just to be clear, PP doesn’t get a budget or funding from the government per se.

        As a provider of medical services, they cover the cost of STI teating/treatment, pap smears, and yes, abortions (among many others). They then bill Medicare.

        So to “defund” them, you would have to enact a law that says “Government will no longer reimburse Planned Parenthood for billable medical procedures”.

        Considering abortion is a legal medical procedure, I’m not really sure how that’s even possible. And what would it even accomplish?

        There are many other abortion providers who bill Medicare.

      • 1mime says:

        Rob, I think you are incorrect about reimbursement to PP for abortion. Federal law specifically prohibits any federal dollars paid for this purpose. In fact, even female members of the military and other federal programs/agencies can receive no funds for abortions. This has been a huge problem with military assignments in the Middle East as rape is a major problem and pregnancies do occur. It is my understanding that the portion of PP’s work that involves abortions is privately funded from donations and endowments they receive. You might want to check PP’s website for confirmation on this.

      • 1mime says:

        Correction: Under federal law, Medicaid federal dollars cannot be used for abortions, “except” as stipulated by the Hyde Amendment which Congress passed, “in which Medicaid funding is restricted to only abortion cases involving rape, incest or endangerment to the life of the mother.”

        I wanted to clarify my earlier comment to you. I was not 100% correct in what I stated there.

      • johngalt says:

        “Even at $100 per organ, a fetus with three organs harvested nets $300 of almost pure profit to PP.”

        Objv, come on. You were/are a nurse, right? Can you imagine the volumes of paperwork necessary to process human tissue samples? It took me 40 hours of work to put together my internal application to use mice for research purposes. Human subjects research is infinitely more involved. Plus there is preservation, storage. Heck, overnight shipping of a box of tissue samples on dry ice can cost more than $100.

        There have been plenty of reputable sources that have said that what PP is charging for these samples is unlikely to cover their costs, much less make a profit from them.

      • johngalt says:

        “The bottom line is that American taxpayers are being forced to fund an organization that provides services that are morally repugnant to a substantial percentage of said taxpayers. That’s just not right.” – Tracy

        And is it right for your morality to determine where a woman goes for medical treatment? Medicaid is not permitted to pick and choose providers eligible to treat covered women, who may choose any qualified provider they wish. Doing otherwise puts the government in the position of making health care decisions, which the right has been carping about for several years (except, of course, when it comes to trans-vaginal ultrasounds).

        Federal funds DO NOT PAY FOR ABORTIONS. If you want to talk about the fungibility of money, the mortgage on the building, electricity, and malpractice insurance, then abortion fees subsidize non-abortion services just as much as the opposite.

      • objv says:

        Homer and JG, From the video, it doesn’t seem that PP did much besides get consent from the patient, plop the fetus in a bowl and bring it over to a technician who worked for a different company but in the same building to dissect. There was probably minimal paperwork meaning almost pure profit for PP.

        http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/07/28/new-planned-parenthood-video-focuses-on-payment-for-fetal-tissue/

      • objv says:

        Mime, I’d be fine with PP getting funds from the government for health/contraceptive care if they would completely and cleanly split the two parts of the organization. That would include different leadership, names, websites, fundraising and that the two organizations would stop sharing the same buildings. Believe me, it is abhorrent for a pro-choice woman to have to go to a clinic that promotes and offers abortions when she simply has family planning and healthcare needs.

      • 1mime says:

        It is abhorrent….

        And, you would know, how?

      • flypusher says:

        “Homer and JG, From the video, it doesn’t seem that PP did much besides get consent from the patient, plop the fetus in a bowl and bring it over to a technician who worked for a different company but in the same building to dissect. There was probably minimal paperwork meaning almost pure profit for PP.”

        Riiigghhht. Just because they happened to edit out all those quotes from people saying “We can’t do this for profit” doesn’t mean that they would exclude showing the paperwork, would they?

        Your mind is obviously already made up. Call us when some DA actually files charges over making a profit. Otherwise all we have are the claims of people who obviously have an agenda and zero scruples about misleading people in pursuit of said agenda.

      • johngalt says:

        “There was probably minimal paperwork meaning almost pure profit for PP.” – objv

        In the world of human tissue research there is no such thing as “minimal paperwork.”

      • 1mime says:

        Welcome to JG’s world, right!

      • Well, 1mime, let’s just put the shoe on the other foot, shall we? PP is a 501(c)(3) corporation. And guess what? The NRA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) corporation, too! How cool is that? Sauce for goose is sauce for the gander, eh? So tell me, how would you feel about your tax dollars going to support the NRA? Wouldn’t that be a cool feeling? 😉

      • 1mime says:

        When/if the NRA ever starts performing medical services that “save” lives, I would happily have my tax dollars go there. In fact, the links to safety and education programs you offered in an earlier post are a great place for tax dollars and I would be happy to contribute tax dollars to those programs.

        Apples and oranges, TT. We can’t each have everything we want. Commentator after commentator have llisted areas of tax dollar subsidy that they/we don’t support, but we are Americans and recognize that our personal views are subsumed by those of the nation. Pro-life proponents have the unalterable right to do as they choose on a personal level. It is protected by law and our Constitution. What is not legally permitted (yet) is for those who have pro-life views to impose those limitations on pro-choice proponents.

        I respect your right to object to whatever you think is important. That is what a Democracy is all about. Fortunately, a Democracy also protects the rights of the minority. I applaud your acceptance of abortion as a free speech right. I accept your right to own guns.

        The ONLY federal tax dollars that can be applied to abortion is narrowly defined in the Hyde Amendment, for the life of a mother, incest, and rape, and ONLY through Medicaid. Are you saying you do not support the Hyde Amendment exceptions?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        tt…it would be a comedy if it were not so sad, and I would assume a member like yourself would already know this.

        My tax dollars already go to the NRA, but it seems the NRA doesn’t view the funding as all that fungible.

        The NRA is made up of several different and evidently “separate” entities, the most well known is the lobbying arm.

        The NRA also provides training to police personnel which is paid for by tax dollars. Now, it is interesting how the NRA explains this. I’m quoting from the NRA website:

        “Although the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is involved in politics, the Law Enforcement Division does not get involved with political issues. Providing the best training possible to our law enforcement officers is our number one priority. We have only one goal in mind — to provide every law enforcement officer in the country with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to WIN a lethal encounter!

        The NRA is a non-profit organization, and as such, our programs cost significantly less than those offered by various other training organizations. We have spent a considerable amount of time and energy over the last several years revising and updating our current course curriculums. Our firearm instructor courses are state-of-the-art, and can be successfully defended in any court of competent jurisdiction, should the need arise. We stand ready to assist you and/or your department with all of your firearm instructor needs.”

        That sounds kinda similar to what we hear from Planned Parenthood.

        I guess from your perspective, I’m already funding the NRA’s lobbying effort since all dollars are fungible.

      • 1mime says:

        Then there is the very real issue of how many of millions of tax dollars are being spent to thwart Roe v Wade in state appeals on either side of the issue, or hold Congressional hearings/scavenger hunts – which are merely monologues since they rarely allow those called to defend their positions have a chance to speak in complete sentences.

        If instead of litigating the issue of abortion, why not take these Millions of tax payer dollars and make contraception easily and affordable, AND, abortion rates would plummet.

      • HH, you are being just a bit disingenuous. Your tax dollars go to directly to law enforcement. Those agencies then decide how to spend dollars on training; they may purchase such training from the NRA Law Enforcement Training arm, or other providers, as they wish. No tax dollars go directly to the NRA. Tax dollars *do* go directly to Planned Parenthood.

      • 1mime says:

        TThor, You didn’t answer my question from an earlier post. Do you support the Hyde Amendment? If you prefer not to answer, that’s fine, but wanted to give you another opportunity as I know this is an important issue with you.

        For the record, again, I do not support taking away all peoples’ guns. Period. And, I think if there are those who do, there are by far, a very small minority of people who exist on the far right for all sorts of causes. BUT, gun advocates who support blanket NRA blockage of any commonsense legislation to address gun violence are just flat wrong. We probably do disagree on this point; however, you are incorrect in your statement that “all” people who seek to expand controls regarding gun violence want all guns taken away. That is simply not true.

      • objv says:

        JG, as a circulating nurse in the OR, specimens sent to the lab only required a sticker with the patient’s hospital ID information on the specimen container and a small form where I listed the diagnosis, the procedure done and the type of specimen. There was also a log that would be checked off when the lab had received the specimen.

        I would assume that there wouldn’t be much else required of PP other than perhaps some type of release. Remember, that the aborted fetuses were delivered to an independent company working in the same building which dissected the fetuses for organs or other tissue which would then be sold for research. Thus, the major paperwork burden would fall on the company collecting the tissue. In one of the videos, a technician said that what was left of the fetuses was dropped in a large jar containing all of the parts of fetuses discarded that day, so I doubt that there was even any additional paperwork involved with disposal of the “medical waste.”

        Bottom line: The fetuses sent to the lab for dissection represented near total profit for PP.

        Interesting link:

        http://www.centerformedicalprogress.org/2015/09/top-planned-parenthood-exec-agrees-baby-parts-sales-a-valid-exchange-some-clinics-generate-a-fair-amount-of-income-doing-this/

    • Anse says:

      One of the great problems of political discourse is attempting to make one issue like another issue. Not everything is comparable to firearms. Though I will say this. Everybody is born with genitals and hormones. Nobody is born with a gun.

      • 1mime says:

        Gee, Anse, are you sure (-:

      • Anse says:

        I mean, consider how many ways we could ask that question. Why can’t we trust people with nuclear weapons? Why can’t we trust people with driving commercial haulers? Why can’t we trust people to perform brain surgery?

        And we don’t trust people to perform abortions, that’s why they have to go to abortion providers to have it done.

        There is so much stuff that goes along with the guns issue, but in the end, gun enthusiasts really have only one thing on their side, and that’s the 2nd Amendment. Which is a big deal, of course. The biggest deal in the debate is the existence of the 2nd Amendment. Makes everything else kind of moot. But as far as debating the issue goes, it’s frustrating.

      • How very droll, folks.

        Actually, every organism on this planet is born with a natural right to self defense; all living creatures deploy one means or another to avoid premature termination as a result of unplanned encounters with neighboring organisms (often of the eat-ey variety, but the type list of potentially fatal encounters is nearly endless). In this sense we are no different from penicillin mold.

        However, being as we are tool using primates, our means of self defense typically involve the use of tools, with firearms being the most effective tool for such purposes developed to date. (Although I’d really prefer a Star Trek Phaser, my current favorite means of self defense, the revolver, combines in one neat and tidy package three of humankind’s greatest inventions: 1) throwing stuff, 2) fire, and 3) the wheel. 🙂 ) So, while you may not be born with a gun, as a rational primate you should certainly acquire a gun at the earliest opportunity and develop the skills to use said tool effectively. And you should most certainly look askance at those of your neighboring primates who would plot to take that tool away from you. They *DO NOT* have your best interests in mind.

      • 1mime says:

        Tracy, Tracy. You’re smarter than this. NO ONE is going to take your guns. And, the story was just a parody.

      • Creigh says:

        “And you should…look askance at those of your neighboring primates who would…take that tool away from you. They DO NOT have your best interests in mind.”

        No, they have their own best interests in mind.

    • johngalt says:

      Everything comes back to our obsession with hard, powerful things that we stick in our pants. Abortion affects nobody except the woman involved (and, if you are anthropomorphizing lumps of cells without cognitive function, the embryo). If your decision about guns just involved you and whichever appendage you want to shoot off, then great, but it doesn’t really work out that way.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      “How is it that we can insist that people be allowed to end the life of an unborn child, no questions asked, but that somehow we can’t trust those very same people to manage their own affairs when it comes to the ownership of inanimate objects, viz. firearms?”

      I’m sure there are exceptions out there, but I’ve never heard this argument made by a woman. Interesting that it always seems to be a dude equating the ability to buy a gun with growing and birthing a human .

      With that said, TThor, if you ever have a firearm inside your stomach, I will wholeheartedly endorse your ability to have that firearm removed, and I won’t even make you have a 48 hour waiting period or require that you have a rectal ultrasound prior to removal of the firearm.

    • goplifer says:

      ***Interesting (and horribly distressing) that medical removal of a lifeless fetus is regarded as an abortion in some circles.***

      Good point. I probably should have explained that. It was actually one of the more infuriating aspects of the experience.

      The crux of the problem was the procedure it required, a D&C. That procedure is common in abortion and the hospital would not allow its doctors to perform an abortion except to save a mothers’ life.

      Our doctor’s professional opinion was that the fetus was dead, ergo this is not an abortion. However, she could not perform the D&C without first providing proof that the fetus was dead. Absence of a previously detectable heartbeat was not sufficiently proof. They needed to track a decline in a certain hormone either across a certain length of time or down to a pre-determined threshold.

      When, I asked, might we expect this to happen? Response – mileage can vary, anywhere from days to weeks.

      So, because this procedure might be construed as an abortion, the doctor was not permitted to perform it on her own advice even in the patient’s interest. Only by meeting certain conditions could she get permission. And I was getting the distinct impression from my conversations with her that she was under considerable professional pressure not to perform a D&C without absolute proof.

      It was a very strange combination of rage and helplessness. I really couldn’t believe it. It took years for the whole thing to really sink in.

  13. 1mime says:

    In The Weekly Sift, there are a number of interesting articles but two which are relevant to this weeks’ posts. These include: the issue of abortion (especially as it relates to candidate Fiorina and the PP hearings) and gun violence, especially the piece on the history of second amendment rights by Jeffery Toobin.

    http://weeklysift.com/2015/10/05/political-choices/

    A fun mention in the Sift collage talks about racial bias….Ever think about the innocuous bandaids that market themselves on the basis of “flesh-toned” to blend into the skin? Ever see any dark brown ones? I guess only White people bleed (-:

  14. Anse says:

    My wife and I were unable to conceive, so we adopted our daughter. We did an “open” adoption, which means we were chosen by the birth mother and were encouraged to develop a relationship with her. Our daughter is almost 2 years old now, and thankfully, our contact with the birth mother has more or less ended. These arrangements are not as bad as some people assume–in Texas, after the birth parents renounce their rights, they have no legal claim to make on the child thereafter–but her life was sordid, to say the least. And it has made me think a lot about my pro-choice views. She is possibly the poster child for abortion rights. In and out of jail for drugs, prostitution, and sundry other offenses. She was genuinely sweet; if you could meet her, all fears of this woman would have subsided immediately. She was 24 years old but had the intelligence and emotional maturity of someone less than half her age. We speculated that she had a cognitive impairment, which along with her extremely dysfunctional childhood (she grew up in foster care, her dad was in prison and her mother an addict), put her on this terrible destructive path. Part of us wanted to adopt her, too.

    So I do wonder about people like her. Our daughter is perfect. Medicaid requires pregnant women to be screened for drugs at every doctor’s appointment, so we didn’t have to fear for our daughter’s life (at least not from that). We were present in the delivery room when she came into the world and took her home five days after her birth. We are all she has ever known for parents.

    I am pro-choice, and I haven’t changed as a result of this. But I am frustrated by the way compromise and nuance are all but impossible on this issue. I think we can agree that abortion is a poor method of contraception when there are other better options available. But I can’t imagine taking away access to that procedure for women who need to have it. We can see what happens when abortion is banned or so strictly curtailed as to be almost impossible. There are real consequences for women’s health. But neither side is willing to give up an inch for fear of losing the war entirely.

    • Anse says:

      I didn’t say, despite that long post, that I understand that a woman like the birthmom of my child is probably a supreme example of someone who would want an abortion. I’m keenly aware of the fact that we are very, very lucky that she did not make that choice.

      • 1mime says:

        Great personal story, Anse. Would that loving homes would be plentiful and more children adopted by couples like you and your wife. There are many children who live in squalor, danger, and poverty. Others end up in foster homes which are a very mixed bag of quality. How much better if the majority of children had the good fortune to be placed with a loving couple in a safe, secure home.

        There are many alternatives to abortion but it appears we agree, it should still to be a woman’s choice (along with her partner). If women had greater access to affordable, accessible and effective birth control, abortion rates would decline. Other women, who unlike your child’s mother, bear and try to raise children in horribly difficult situations while enduring criticism and lack of support from the father and society.

    • texan5142 says:

      “My wife and I were unable to conceive, so we adopted our daughter. We did an “open” adoption, which means we were chosen by the birth mother and were encouraged to develop a relationship with her.”

      Same here, semi-open adoption, our daughter is now twenty years old and attending college. She was put into our arms by the birth mom at 6 days old, love at first sight.The most moving experience of my life. My daughter knows who her birth mom is and who her birth grandma is. She does not communicate with the birth mom, her decision. The birth grandma keeps in touch with the wife thru face book there she can see pictures of her grand daughter. She is our daughter and she will tell you that we are her parents straight up. Our bond is not dictated by the blood in our veins, rather it is the love in our hearts, soul and mind that binds us.

      Who is cutting onions in my office?

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      “I think we can agree that abortion is a poor method of contraception when there are other better options available. ”

      Definitely. And since contraception lowers abortion rights, makes one wonder why Republicans don’t actively promote it?

      Almost makes you wonder if they actually give a shit about the embryo, or if the real goal is to punish women for having a sexuality

      • 1mime says:

        Or, competing with men in the workplace…..More babies = less ability to work = more women at home. Fundamentally, I think it is puritanical control. I don’t think you can suppress sex and have a healthy psyche….heck, I don’t even believe in celibacy! (And, I won’t even venture into that discussion.)

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Hadn’t thought of that Mime, but that’s actually a pretty good point.

  15. Ed K says:

    Thanks for sharing.

  16. johngalt says:

    Thank you for sharing that personal story, Chris. My mother carried an anencephalic baby to term in a southern state in the late 1960s. It later came to light that her doctor had known for at least some weeks that it would be stillborn and never told her because there were no other options but to carry it on. That should never happen.

    It is easy for some to call Rob Portman a hypocrite for changing his mind on an issue only after it affected him, but smart people incorporate their own experiences into their world-view and change their mind when appropriate.

    • flypusher says:

      I initially had the more tradition conservative attitude towards gay people and their issues because I was raised in a Catholic household. I changed my mind once I got into grad school because I had the chance to read the science about it. And then I also actually met real live gay people.

      JG, do you ever have the urge to smack people like Terry England? He wants to bring back what happened to your mother. If you are placing more value on a dead fetus than a living woman, you really ought to be disqualified from holding public office, because you are a menace to human rights.

      • johngalt says:

        Not in this case since I hadn’t heard of Terry England. More generally, though, I’m just dumbstruck at how a person like that possibly gets elected, even in Georgia. How do women vote for someone whose attitudes towards them are than paleolithic? How do men who have any respect for their mothers, wives and daughters vote for someone like that?

      • flypusher says:

        “How do women vote for someone whose attitudes towards them are than paleolithic? ”

        I could post a YouTube link of this guy’s idiocy, but I won’t ruin everyone’s lunch. Unfortunately oppressors can enlist the oppressed in assisting in their own oppression because of the unfortunate tendency of humans to turn off their brains for the sake of belonging to the group. Consider the abominable practice of female genital mutilation. Often the people maiming these young girls are their own mothers, aunts, grandmothers. They’ve bought into the notion that if they don’t mutilate that child, no man will marry her and she’ll have no future. Also they lived through it and it’s tradition and such, so the child will have to deal with it too.

        In this country it’s often brainless religious fundamentalism. People “vote with their Bibles” for candidates who appear to be Godly men, and who don’t hesitate to screw them over once in office. There are still plenty of people who think Akin got a raw deal in that Senate race a few years back, because being “a good Christain man” counts for far more than being scientifically accurate.

    • 1mime says:

      Life and circumstance are hard teachers. It’s not the “about face” that bothers me, it’s the closed minds. I applaud Portman for his filial love and the courage to stand up and speak out.
      In doing so, he doubtless closed off many opportunities within the Republican Party. That is unfortunate for all of us.

      That was really my point in my earlier question to Lifer. Given the fact that so many people are products of social and environmentally rigid mores, and given the composition of the hard right, it seems doubtful that their limited life experience will ever allow them to see a different point of view as legitimate as they have such narrow life experiences themselves. Change and progress will have to come from the young.

      The Chris Ladd that we know and respect from his blog was forced to confront an unpleasant truth when he and his wife experienced a near tragedy. Where would he be on this issue if his life had proceeded in a more orderly, prescribed fashion? Certainly the awareness and sensitivity to other people facing the same choices would have been muted.

      Things happen and as individuals, we either learn from them or we don’t. What we take away from a life-altering event may impact the rest of our lives. You either grow or harden in your beliefs. Thankfully, Chris grew from his experience and has never stopped challenging the status quo.

  17. EJ says:

    Off-topic:

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/republicans-dont-like-donald-trump-as-much-as-they-used-to/

    It looks as though the pool we ran on this may soon have an answer.

  18. EJ says:

    Thank you for sharing, Chris. The realisation of personal blindness, and the understanding that one had been on the wrong side of the issue and might still be but for the vagaries of fate, is a painful but incredibly important one.

    I’d like to link people to this. I hope that that since it’s a blog post you don’t mind me doing so?

  19. Griffin says:

    That was a surprisingly personal story I’m sorry that happened to you but you told it well. I always wondered why the hardline pro-life radicals seemed to get under your skin even more than the other far-right activists do, I’m sorry it got so personal.

    “I already left Texas. I’m not leaving the GOP without a much longer, more determined fight. I won’t lose another home.”

    Don’t worry demographics aren’t on their side if youth views are anything to go by. Whether it will take eight years or thirty the radical right can’t run a major party (not even the GOP) forever.

  20. Terrific post Chris. My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage and it was positively devastating. And I didn’t have the terrible complications your wife had. The good news is that I went on to have two great kids.

    The other part of your story which resonated with me is how your life has been put into a larger context after having children. It’s not a small commitment. We’re not polar bears where we teach our cubs to hunt and then send them off after a year or so. My youngest will be 21 in December. She is getting the first of three degrees that we are paying for. We expect to be supporting her for another five years. I’ve been parenting for most of my adult life (and I’m exhausted. 🙂 Becoming a parent is not an 18-year commitment; it’s a lifelong one. And that needs to be part of the broader conversation. Asking a woman to have a child impacts her entire life; and, in the end, that must be her decision.

    That’s a big part of why I am pro-choice.

  21. robTX says:

    Sara, one more thing I would like to comment on:

    You wrote:

    “As if healthy adult women should just Not Have Sex (honestly, does anyone ever say this to healthy adult men?), and deserve to be punished with babies if they can’t afford to buy contraception for themselves.”

    and of course I understand that some strange men might really think that way.

    I also absolutely agree that having a child has a bigger impact on a woman than a man. Part of that we cannot change due to biology. However, after the pregnancy men are in my opinion equally responsible for this new human being. There is no law that says women have to end their education, while men continue it or that women have to be single parents. The issue there is simply Men refusing responsibility.

    And unless a man is a coward and runs and hides from his responsibility, having a baby may also cause hardship for him, like for instance having to stop his education and get a job instead to provide financial support for the new baby (whether it is in the form of living as a family or paying child support)

    Therefore, my point would be that YES already now, men are also “punished with babies” for having unprotected sex. Not to same extent as women due to not having to go through pregnancy.

    So long story short: Having sex is an adult decision and there are risks involved for both partners.

    A solution to lighten the mood a bit: Maybe we should just have both men and women sign a waiver before having sex 😉

    “I understand that in spite of using birth control a very small risk remains that I might become a parent together with the person I am about to sleep with. This could change my entire life and in a worst case scenario lead to financial hardship, broken dreams and not getting any sleep for the next 5 years of my life. Nevertheless, I accept all responsibility for any children coming out of the next couple of hours of fun” 😀

  22. robTX says:

    Sara, you are bringing up an argument that appears inconsistent to me and I feel that they divide the parties more than bring them together: You wrote …

    “I’d argue that a woman who’s in an abusive relationship, or can’t feed the kids she has, or is out of work and about to be homeless, or is at a critical point in her education, has a strong moral claim on being able to make the most responsible choices for herself and the kids she does choose to have.”

    Trying to find the consistence:
    Since none of these reasons are morally accepted to kill a new-born baby, they cannot be a reason to abort a fetus UNLESS the standpoint is that at the time of the abortion the fetus is not a human being.

    I even disagree with aborting children in the third trimester because they might have a disability. If such a reason is valid 2 month before birth, it would also have to be valid 3 days after birth, if for instance the new born did not get enough oxygen, UNLESS again the standpoint is that the 7 month old fetus is not a human being but the 3-day old baby is a human being OR the (absurd and extreme) standpoint is that disabled human beings life is not worth living.

    So for me the only two consistent arguments are

    1) Abortions are acceptable before we consider the baby/fetus a human being
    2) Abortions are acceptable beyond that point if we severely risk the life of another human being (=the mother)

    Therefore, the topic of discussion should revolve around coming to a compromise on this timing question instead of talking about being homeless or a critical point in one’s education since none of these are reasons to kill a baby or child at any point.

    These type of arguments, are what turn me = a young, liberal European (who strangely agrees with GOPlifer’s posts on pretty much everything) into a person that cannot identify with the US “pro-choice” movement. I am pro-choice as long as we are not talking about a human being, but as soon as there is a human being, I do not agree that another human being has a choice to say whether the first human being gets to live or not.

  23. Dan Cooper says:

    A moving story. Thank you. I am going to share it. I have friends who believe there is no intelligent life left in the GOP.

    • 1mime says:

      Caution: Lifer is a mutant Republican (-:

      • Griffin says:

        More like an actual Republican, a modern leftover/version of the Progressive Republican faction that largely controlled the party from the 50’s to the late 70’s before being wounded by the Reagan Revolution that sidelined them in favor of social conservatives and hardline hawks and the likes of William F. Buckley demanding they were primaried by more conservative Republicans. They survived as a prominent faction until they were largely purged during the Gingrich and Tea Party Revolutions that more clearly shifted the GOP from a progressive conservative party to a social conservative party to a currently reactionary party.

        Today the Main Street Republicans have been totally overrun by what could be more accurately described as Dixiecrats, to an even greater degree than the Democratic Party was when it had both a prominent liberal and conservative faction. The situation for progressive Republicans is even more dire than it was for liberal Democrats in the 60’s, at least they had prominence in the North and East to fall back on. The GOP todday relies almost entirely on the Southern conservative vote. In order for moderates to have a chance to retake the GOP a few things have to hapen:

        1) The media has to treat the current crop of Republicans like the extremists they are, pointing out the insanity of their plans and that the Democratic Party is not as extreme. Right now they are afraid of being called liberally biased so they instead take a “neutral” bias where they treat both parties as equally extreme/wrong and thus legitimize the GOP leadership as serious about governing and not totally removed from reality/mainstream politics. They have to grow some balls and realize they are suppose to be objective, not “neutral”. When that happens the GOP will have to start nominating centrists.

        2) The moderates have to fight for every inch. Some should get involved in the primary not expecting to win but just to cause as much damage as possible to the radical faction, which is what Huntsman should have done.

        3) Social conservatism will have to become largely irrelevant, either through increased voter turnout (GOP radicals mainly perform so well due to voter apathy among everyone else) or the religious authoritarians just dying off. That or the GOP just kicks them out but if that happened they wouldn’t win elections for a while.

      • 1mime says:

        A recent poll conducted in TX by the TX Lyceum, offers an interesting snapshot of changing attitudes. As always, it is important to dig deep into the actual poll to see the actual Q & A, demographics, etc. (See link below.) When you see movement in a deep red state like TX even in a few sacrosanct conservative positions, that gives hope that “time and demography” will help swing the pendulum back. Then, maybe you and Lifer can have your “old” Republican Party back and America can have true democratic governance by consensus and compromise and a country that works for all of its people.

        http://www.texaslyceum.org/Resources/Documents/TEXAS%20LYCEUM%20POLL/2015%20Texas%20Lyceum%20Poll%20Results.pdf

        BTW, being called a “mutant” Republican is a compliment these days! (at least from me)

  24. This is the most thoughtful, intelligent thing I have seen written on this issue in a long time. Thank you. It can’t be an easy story to tell.

  25. 1mime says:

    Wisdom comes best and hardest through personal experience. Thank you for sharing your family’s story, Lifer. I am happy that you and your wife were able to have other children safely. It shouldn’t take a near tragedy such as you and your wife experienced in order to become more fully informed on the complexity of abortion. Sadly, it appears that too few are able to find compassion on a broad range of family issues, including this most personal one.

    The lack of desire to open minds and hearts to the plight of others has frankly made me very cynical of those who profess faith. Would they really let their wife die in front of their eyes in a situation like this? Would they really ask their wife to carry a severely damaged, or dead fetus to term? Could any parent of a child who had been raped demand that that child bear any resulting pregnancy? These are hard questions but my honest guess is that most rational people would make the right call for the right reason “if they found themselves in this difficult situation”. Fortunately, most people’s lives are orderly and secure. They don’t live with an abusive spouse, or lack a safe neighborhood for their family, or lack the means and access to medical care. And, it is mostly from this group of privileged individuals, that we hear the vitriol and narrow views demanding that all women, their spouses and families, comply with their views on choice. There is no understanding, compassion and tolerance.

    They haven’t walked in your shoes, Lifer.

  26. stephen says:

    I voted for Clinton the first time he ran for president because I was tired of the fiscal irresponsibility of the GOP. He did well there. But failed in another promise to make abortion safe, legal and rare. I voted for Dole the second time. Most women have abortion for economic reasons. The way welfare was reformed made it harder for a women to say no to abortion.

    I think that abortion is an abomination. But like most southerners I intensely distrust our government. A government that can deny abortions can as easily mandate them. China being a good example of this. And as you related life is grey and there are cases like yours where there is good reason for the procedure. I would leave it up to the mother with plenty of help for mom to be able to find another way. No woman finds joy in choosing abortion. Things like free or subsidize birth control, subsidize daycare, healthcare and a streamline adoption procedure that gives mother dignity would help mom to say No.

    Going home today I went by a Catholic Church with it’s parishioners along US 1 holding anti-abortion signs. I wonder why they were not putting more pressure on our Republican Congressman to make it easier for a woman to say no to abortion. Because truth be told Roe versus Wade is not going to be overturned so the practical thing is to make abortion safe, legal and rare. The fact he opposes any thing to do that tells me he values this wedge issue more than aborted babies. This is hypocrisy and playing the rubes as idiots.
    So this is why I am Pro Choice but Anti-Abortion.

    • Sara Robinson says:

      I wish there was a LIKE button on this site, because I’d be using it all over the place in this thread. Including with the above comment. So much compassion and wisdom here.

      A few bits:

      1: Roe V. Wade could be overturned, as soon as this coming year. If that happens, abortion goes back to the states. And you can bet that Texas is going to look a lot different than, say, my home state of Washington, where abortion is enshrined in the state constitution as a basic human right.

      It’s going to be a mess, and women are going to die. A lot of them. And this will go on for a while, until we finally remember all over again that we liberalized abortion in the 1960s because hundreds of thousands of women were dying then, too.

      2. I take heart whenever I find people who make the connection between giving women free contraception and reducing abortion rates — and recognize this as the best path to ensure that every baby is born wanted and loved. As we move to long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs, in the parlance), the upfront costs are the biggest hurdle for most women. It can take several hundred bucks to get yourself set up — yet the savings to taxpayers gives us about a 1:7 ROI on this investment. This should be a no-brainer, and I can’t believe we’re debating it.

      Conservatives who bitch about paying for someone’s “recreational drugs” make me want to yell, loudly. As if healthy adult women should just Not Have Sex (honestly, does anyone ever say this to healthy adult men?), and deserve to be punished with babies if they can’t afford to buy contraception for themselves.

      3. “No woman finds joy in choosing an abortion.” True: but research shows that most of us do find tremendous relief and renewed hope for the future — and those are not small things.

    • flypusher says:

      Stephen, your opinion is well thought out and compassionate. It leads straight to the common ground that is the only way out of this divide: more effort towards preventing of unwanted pregnancies, and more resources that would make the choice of completing a pregnancy easier. Would that more people on the Pro-life side would support that. If you are truly about “saving babies”, this is your best way to accomplish that.

  27. robTX says:

    Chris, I totally support abortions for medical reasons like the one you explained or other severe situations like rape, etc.

    I also think that the best way to tackle the abortion issue in the US is to finally standardize sex-ed across private and public schools based on scientific facts including ALL options of birth control (abstinence can still be mentioned as the only 100 % guaranteed option). This would hopefully remove the need for many abortions in the first place.

    However, I feel very uneasy about abortions that are performed out of lack of applying birth control.

    What is your position on abortions where the primary reason is “I do not want to have a child (yet)”?

    • Sara Robinson says:

      Rob, the problem has been that birth control isn’t all that great. One in nine women taking The Pill will get pregnant in any given year. (Most of this is due to women forgetting to take it *every. single. day.*, which is more likely to happen to women who are young and/or disorganized — precisely the women who should not be contemplating motherhood.)

      This situation is improving dramatically, though. The new top-shelf methods coming on line now are much, much better. The IUD — which is now the method of choice for women who can afford the high upfront costs — offers an annual pregnancy rate of 1 in 800. For implants, it’s one in 2000. A large part of this is that they’re fire-and-forget — with nothing for the woman to do or remember, they basically set the fertility default to OFF until they’re removed.

      Right now, the challenge is getting doctors trained up to recommend and install these devices. As this changes over the next few years, the abortion rate should start to decline quite a bit. Still, we will always need skilled providers for those 1-in-800 misfires — or for people like Chris and his wife, facing bad situations that only an abortion can resolve.

      As someone who had one of those “I do not want to have a child yet” abortions — and has never regretted it — I hope you’re not suggesting that a woman who takes an honest appraisal of her situation and chooses in favor of her own future (and the future of the children she will likely someday have) is somehow doing something morally questionable. Being able to make that choice then made it possible for me to finish my education, enjoy an interesting career, marry well, become financially secure, and be a great mom to two terrific kids.

      Note also that since 60% of aborting women are already mothers, it’s more often: “I don’t want to have a child *again.” They’ve done their part, and are acting out of respect for their own limits. That’s being responsible, too.

      • 1mime says:

        Oh, I so agree Sara. And, as Fly stated above, it is no coincidence that those who oppose abortion also oppose contraception. For me, it is simple. It should be a woman’s choice (along with her spouse/partner). Who has a better right than the person who must carry, deliver, and raise a child? And, the beautiful part is, those who feel differently are free to make their own choices. Just don’t dictate my choice for me. And, if you oppose abortion and contraception, be prepared to support women who have babies they can’t care for and the innocent children who didn’t choose to be borne and now have to live.

        An absolutely great and balanced book on the subject – is “Protect and Defend”, by Richard North Patterson.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll check it out.

      • robTX says:

        Sara, I am not suggesting, but trying to find answers that make sense for myself as I think about this topic a lot. Here is my “though-chain” starting at what we all agree on and work my way backwards.

        – We all agree that every human being has the right to live. I think there is absolutely no debate that once a baby is born, it is morally wrong and legally not allowed to kill it regardless of any reasons (e.g. I can not provide for it; it is disabled; it will not have a good life/future, etc.). If parents decide after birth that they are not able to take care of a child, their only option is to give it up for adoption.

        – Therefore, it all comes down to the question of WHEN does a baby become a human being. And this is the hard part because there is no definite answer to this. For me it was always clear that this cannot be at the time of birth, so I started looking for answers.

        The link below shows a long list of possible scientific points to answer the “WHEN”:
        http://blogs.plos.org/dnascience/2013/10/03/when-does-a-human-life-begins-17-timepoints/

        My personal opinion is
        – the earliest: at conception (point 3 in the link above)
        – the VERY latest: week 22. A fetus has a chance of becoming a premature baby if delivered. (point 14).

        Now there are still 22 weeks in between those dates and things like “a heartbeat” (18 days) or the transition from embryo to fetus (end of week 8) all make a lot of sense to me.

        To summarize, I do think that abortions are morally wrong if they happen for “life and career planning reasons” instead of medical reasons AFTER a human being has been created. Once that human being has been created then the TWO people that created the human being, bear the responsibility for that human being.

        However, I have NO IDEA when exactly this point is, which makes it very difficult for me to decide between the black and white that are currently offered between pro-life and pro-choice advocats.

    • goplifer says:

      Rob, I am troubled by the same questions. Until this incident I had never really given the matter a lot of thought. Unfortunately, the more I think about the more complex the whole thing becomes. People’s reasons are far too complex to generalize. I certainly never would have imagined our scenario until it happened.

      I’d really like to point to a bright line and say ‘that’s the point when a fetus becomes a baby,’ but there really isn’t such a line. It’s more of a parabola and it extends back before conception and outward across one’s life. After all, life begins at 40, right?

      We do have to pick a point along that parabola beyond which we are going to protect a life. To me, birth seems too late and conception seems too soon. But wherever we draw that line someone is going to suffer a consequence. Here’s what I wrote about when life begins:

      http://blog.chron.com/goplifer/2013/07/when-does-life-begin/

      I would actually be pretty satisfied with abortion restrictions similar to what you see in Europe. Those restrictions are tighter than in the US, but with pretty broad exceptions for individual circumstances.

      Here’s a sample of European countries’ approaches: http://blog.chron.com/goplifer/2013/07/abortion-laws-in-europe/

      At the end of the day though, this is a question of valid liberty interests at odds with one another. Wherever we draw that boundary someone potentially loses. Understanding that at least gives us the advantage of honesty.

      Here’s a potential settlement I dreamed up, for what it’s worth: http://blog.chron.com/goplifer/2013/07/breaking-the-abortion-stalemate/

      • flypusher says:

        We biologists also grok the murkiness here. Humans want neat categories, obvious start points and end points. Nature doesn’t oblige us. There are valid scientific arguments to be made for personhood at a number of developmental stages, but not enough of a consensus to say “There, THAT’S the undisputed stage where we have a human being who’s entitled to human rights.” Where you draw that line is entirely subjective (personally I’m looking at somewhere between gastrulation and the beginning of detectable brain activity as where I would draw the line), and when the linchpin of the whole debate is that subjective, the only practical responses are compromise (such as using viability as the point where the fetus gets legal rights) and bypassing the issue whenever possible (more sex ed and birth control to avoid the unwanted pregnancy ITFP).

      • 1mime says:

        Sex education as it’s currently delivered has been a failure. If, as Lifer suggests, such education is broad, including contraception options, it would be more real and beneficial to those hearing the presentations. Making contraception an unacceptable choice, prohibitively expensive or difficult to obtain, defeats the whole scenario.

        And, btw, let’s include our young and older men in this discussion. After all, it takes two to tango.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        Most Americans have a strong moral intuition that the fetus’s claims become stronger as the pregnancy advances. One of the things I like about Roe is that it actually reflects that intuition, by setting up the trimester scheme. During the first trimester, the Court said, abortion should be entirely by choice. During the second trimester (which ends just about the time viability becomes an issue), states have the right to start making restrictions — people should move more carefully. And in the third trimester, the state can assert that there needs to be an overwhelming interest to intervene, like saving the life of the mother.

        Most people don’t realize that this changing set of moral conditions is baked into Roe — and probably would be more supportive of it if they did.

        But it’s not just about physical viability. It’s also about the viability of the parents, and their ability to make a home and support a baby. Those are moral choices, too: I’d argue that a woman who’s in an abusive relationship, or can’t feed the kids she has, or is out of work and about to be homeless, or is at a critical point in her education, has a strong moral claim on being able to make the most responsible choices for herself and the kids she does choose to have.

        It’s also notable that a growing number of second-trimester abortions are happening now because women can’t get first-trimester ones, because of all the obstructions Chris encountered. By the time they get the time off work, the cash in hand, the ticket to the city, and all the other rigamarole handled, it’s been a few months, and what was a simple first-trimester procedure has now become a harder (in every respect) second-trimester one. And the anti-choice folks are *directly* responsible for that change.

      • 1mime says:

        To your knowledge then Sara, how can states legislate “no exceptions” ?

      • robTX says:

        Thanks for the links Chris!

        I moved from Europe to Texas 6 years ago so the link to the abortion laws in Europe was very interesting. In all my life living there, I do not remember once that abortion was even a political topic.

        The abortion rates are probably so low, because we received sex-ed discussing all birth-control options already in 7-8th grade. Many parents also simply accept that their kids will become sexually active before 18. It is very common for boyfriends and girlfriends to stay over night in the same bed in the parents house starting around the age of 16. One co-worker told me that she would buy a queen size bed for her 13 year old son since in a few years he will probably have a girlfriend staying over anyway. With such public acceptance, young girls also don’t have problems to get birth control.

        From reading your article about the “settlement”, I think the 12-week limit (with medical exception) + the mandated sex-ed and insurance provided birth control would probably lead to the best result!

      • 1mime says:

        If the court leaves Roe alone, the beauty for you and others is that you can set your own limits. Should the Supreme Court overturn Roe and make abortion/choice a states rights issue, it will once again be politicized. It seems to me that the current status coupled with meaningful, comprehensive sex education and ready, affordable access to contraception gives all parties the best of all worlds. Would that that would satisfy the pro-life crowd.

      • 1mime says:

        Chris, from what you have stated, if you and your wife had not had your frightening experience, you very well could be on the pro-life side of this issue. Given the harsh lines dividing so many issues today, your position could have been strongly pro-life as that seems to be the conservative litmus test.

        To what extent do you think it possible to teach those whose “pro-life” views are emanating from such a protected, narrow venue that this issue is complex and deserving of respect for others’ views? It is highly likely that very, very few have had any direct experience with the issue, either by choice or circumstance, therefore, they’ve never had to wrestle with the difficulty of hard choices. And, of course, that leaves out the whole “pure choice” point of view, i.e., one’s ability to “choose” for themselves at any point about abortions and certainly have the freedom of contraception. Jeez! What century are some people living in?!

    • johngalt says:

      Rob asks: “What is your position on abortions where the primary reason is “I do not want to have a child (yet)”?”

      Then have an abortion. Pregnancy is debilitating, emotionally and physically. It is easy to suggest giving a child up for adoption, but in the meantime that woman has to endure a painful, uncomfortable and sometimes life threatening nine months. As the mother of my children periodically reminds me, pregnancy changes her body, essentially forever. It sometimes has to literally be cut out of her, like a 7 pound tumor.

      I’m OK with a time limit is imposed, somewhere around notional viability (provided there are some medical exceptions), but nobody has the right to impose the burdens of pregnancy on an unwilling or unable woman.

  28. flypusher says:

    Thank you for sharing that painful and very personal story. Many people have similar stories to tell, but each one is unique, and trying to craft a law that could anticipate every possible contingency, every conceivable complication, is a fool’s errand. What should matter first and foremost here is the opinions of the medical professional and the informed decisions that patients make based on those opinions. I wonder how many of these state legislators like Terry England have had to deal with such a crisis. I’ll be shocked if I would run out of fingers in counting them.

    For me it will never be so personal. They could ban all abortions and make it a capital crime, and it will not affect me. But that’s not the sort of society I would care to be a part of.

  29. Sara Robinson says:

    Congratulations on your epiphany, Chris. These are always deeply personal and often agonizing moments in the life of a family, and no one can protect us from the grief they cause or the serious decisions we must make as a result. They can, however, hugely interfere with our ability to deal with them in a nuanced, wise, and adult manner — as you discovered the hard way.

    So much of the anti-choice movement infantilizes women and their partners by trying to “protect” us from ourselves. The form the obstacles take presumes that we don’t know what we’re doing; we don’t understand that it’s A Baby (!!!); that we can’t assess what parenthood means; or that we are incapable of making serious moral choices that honor our existing obligations to ourselves, our partners, the families we have, and the families we hope to have.

    This is insulting. Sixty percent of women who have abortions are, like your wife, already mothers. They know exactly what it means to have a baby — and that sure knowledge is an active part of their decision. Showing them ultrasound images or making them endure poltiican-written speeches isn’t going to tell them anything they don’t already know. And blocking access to women who have decided to terminate a pregnancy doesn’t usually have the happy endings the forced birthers would have us believe: the long-term impacts on these women’s lives are very often devastating, as this study shows.

    Being able to control our fertility is the rock-bottom precondition that makes it possible for women to participate economically and politically in our society. Take that away, and every other life choice — about what kind of education we get, whom we marry, where we live, how many kids we have, and how prosperous we will be — vanishes with it. Better contraception will make abortion far less politically salient in the coming decade — but there will still be situations in which it is absolutely necessary — not just for the health and well-being of mothers, but for their families and for society as well.

    • flypusher says:

      “Being able to control our fertility is the rock-bottom precondition that makes it possible for women to participate economically and politically in our society.”

      Yep, and that is a major motivation for many religious conservatives. I do not ascribe a singular motive to the pro-life side, nor do I assume all people on that side are there for the same reasons, but the overlap between those who would ban abortion and those who oppose birth control is no coincidence. Purging society of the ancient sexual double standards would be a big improvement.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        Yep yep yep. There’s an old conservative discourse that says that men are basically barbarians; and that civilization doesn’t happen until women tie them down and force them to commit to home, work, and community via monogamous marriage and repeated pregnancy. If women don’t step up and do their duty on this front, civilization will fail. (This is, according to this view, what happened to Rome.)

        Therefore: society is justified in doing whatever it must to force women into submission to this essential role. Nothing less than the fate of American civilization demands this. In the face of this looming crisis, any suggestion that women have personal rights or liberties that might conflict with this duty is a heresy. Fertility control lets women off the hook — and because of it, we have men running wild in the streets.

        This sounds ludicrous, but Billy Graham promoted this idea back in the 40s and 50s, and it’s got a longer pedigree going back to the 19th century as well. Its modern incarnation began when George Gilder put it into print in a book called “Sexual Suicide” around 1979 or so, and James Dobson and other Evangelicals have promoted this idea widely in the decades since.

        This is the usually-covert epistemological assumption that underlies pretty much every conservative reflex where gender relations, women, sex, and family is concerned — and I think this conversation doesn’t really begin to change until we start explicitly start calling that story out.

      • 1mime says:

        AMEN! No coincidence at all.

      • flypusher says:

        “This is the usually-covert epistemological assumption that underlies pretty much every conservative reflex where gender relations, women, sex, and family is concerned — and I think this conversation doesn’t really begin to change until we start explicitly start calling that story out.”

        I’m thinking of the old show, “Politically Incorrect”, hosted by Bill Maher, that ran on Comedy Central, then ABC. I was a fan of the show, but was often disappointed with it because of all the unrealized potential I saw. I really wanted it to become a national version of the old barbershop conversation- that everyone had the right to speak their minds, and what was said there stayed there (i.e., you don’t get fired for expressing a controversial opinion). One such lost opportunity I saw was in a conversation that started comparing racism and sexism in the context of Americans making values judgments on other societies. Former Congresswomen Pat Schroder was on the panel, and she had made on excellent point of why so many people wrote off oppression of women as “Well, that’s just cultural”, but they never would have accepted the same excuse for oppression by race, ethnicity, etc. Unfortunately there was no follow up on that point (and I’ve always found Maher opinions on women to too often reflect the worst sexist stereotypes), but I think it ties into your opening point of the civilizing effect of women. I think there is validity to it, in that women are doing the heavy lifting regarding the producing and raising of children, and they are often the glue holding a family together. But I could not disagree more that it is necessary to deny women human rights in order to continue the species and keep civilization together. Oppressing women is all about the convenience of some men.

      • GG says:

        Personally, I think most of the anti-choicers are simply fanatical puritans who want to go back to the good old days of shaming those “filthy whores”.for having sex outside of marriage. For some reason the idea of women having recreational sex really bothers and threatens them.

        The others are fetus worshippers who consider a clump of cells to be of far more importance than the already sentient living woman. Either way, both groups have a contempt for women and view them primarily as expendable incubators. Let’s also not forget these types cease caring once the child is born. They bitch and moan about welfare recipients and cut funding to needy children but, by god, when they are in the womb they are fetishized.

        We had a now departed poster who often compared abortion to slavery. While I don’t actually think that he believed his own garbage, he also had contempt for women, though he would argue that vociferously, but then he’d slip up and mention his religion and his background, which revealed a lot.

        I’ve also heard the idea that the GOP wants Roe vs. Wade overturned because they want more poor for their war machine. Poor people make good cannon fodder as well as cheap labor and, let’s face it, making abortion difficult or illegal hurts poor people the most. Senator Windbag’s little darlings will always have access to safe abortions. Please note, I don’t necessarily believe this theory but I was reading another blog and this idea was being kicked around.

      • 1mime says:

        No, this is not hypothetical. SCOTUS has accepted the TX case that basically requires any clinic that provides abortions to meet very stringent Hospital standards, which, essentially, shut down all but ten clinics in the state. These are barely hanging on. The stringent state laws on abortion are attacking from a different level. Sara is correct to state that abortion could be overturned. Look at the conservative make up of the court and it’s not hard to imagine Roe being either overturned or neutered to the point where it is meaningless. (In many states, Roe is barely functional in terms of womens’ rights to find a center that performs abortions and the conditions which govern the exceptions.)

        Here’s a recent Politico article on five cases coming forward, including the one from TX, and the impact it and other efforts are having on abortion rights.

        http://www.politico.com/story/2015/10/supreme-court-abortion-obamacare-214400

  30. briandrush says:

    I could relate to a lot of this, being a refugee from Texas myself, born in Houston and living most of my growing-up years in the Dallas area. Unlike you, Chris, I considered myself a liberal from the get-go. (As I’m sure you know, Texas liberals — they do exist, folks — are generally noisy and combative. That’s partly because, you know, Texas, and partly because it’s a necessity of survival there.)

    Anyway, I relocated to the West Coast while you went to Illinois, and did so at a younger age, but I can definitely relate.

    There’s a lot of good in the Republican traditions and, for saving the country from division and ending slavery if nothing else, the nation owes the party a lot. Most of my favorite national leaders from the past have been Republicans (Lincoln, TR, Eisenhower) — FDR may be the sole exception.

    Nonetheless, I’ve never considered myself a Republican, because I didn’t live in the time of those leaders, except Ike and I was born the year he was reelected, so that doesn’t really count. Republicans of my living memory start with Nixon and descend from that dubious start. (Nixon’s policy positions were mostly fine from my point of view, his personal integrity not so much. Reagan was better in terms of character than Nixon, but much worse in terms of policy. And both the Bushes were simply disastrous, particularly the younger one. As for the GOP in Congress today — well, the less said, the better.)

    So that, unfortunately, is the Republican Party that I know, but as a student of history I know it wasn’t always like that. And I can understand the desire to salvage something that used to be pretty glorious. I hope you succeed.

    • 1mime says:

      One has to wonder if a Lincoln, TR, and Ike would fit in with the Republican Party of today.
      I’m surprised you didn’t include LBJ in your exception list. Regardless of his personal predilections (which many leaders shared), his was a presidency of great consequence, especially if one has a liberal bent.

      • briandrush says:

        Well, it certainly had great consequence (the LBJ presidency that is), but the consequences were very much mixed, Civil Rights Act, Medicare, and the Great Society versus Vietnam. There’s a reason why he didn’t have a second term. Same reason, more or less, why Nixon doesn’t make my list. His accomplishments as president were astounding, but so was his abuse of power.

  31. texan5142 says:

    Thank you for sharing that very personal story. It is never as simple as it seems.

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