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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Judge: Plan B morning after pill ain't abortion. Damn straight.

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Author Topic: Judge: Plan B morning after pill ain't abortion. Damn straight.
Pete at Home
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http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/05/17615372-judge-make-morning-after-pill-available-to-all-girls-without-prescription?


Folks, there's a judge in the house with some conception of basic biology. Break out the bubbly.

quote:
Emergency contraception uses high doses of the same hormones used in birth control to prevent pregnancy when taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. It can prevent or delay ovulation, prevent fertilization or, in some cases, prevent implantation of a fertilized egg into the lining of the uterus. It does not cause miscarriages or abortions and would have no effect if a woman were already pregnant, medical experts say.
It's only "abortion" when the woman is pregnant, i.e. when implantation has occurred.
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Pete at Home
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Damn. For symmetry, I should have named this thread "A Case to distinguish Anti-Abortion from Anti-Brain"
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hobsen
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Opinion does seem to be shifting. From the National Catholic Register:
quote:

PHILADELPHIA — On Feb. 21, the German Bishops' Conference announced that Catholic hospitals under their jurisdiction could prescribe the “morning-after pill” to rape victims, a policy shift that reflects the position of the U.S. bishops.

The German bishops stated that Church health-care facilities could provide the medication as long as it would have “a preventive and not an abortive effect. Medical and pharmaceutical methods which result in the death of an embryo still may not be used.”

What was actually approved was more complicated:
quote:

However, Marie Hilliard, a bioethicist at the Philadelphia-based National Catholic Bioethics Center, which advises the U.S. bishops on health-care issues, rejected the suggestion that the Church no longer viewed the morning-after pill as an abortifacient.

She explained that the Church only permitted the administration of the drug for rape victims after first testing to confirm that the patient had not begun to ovulate. If ovulation had commenced, the drug was not prescribed because it could act as an abortifacient by preventing implantation of an embryo.

A reader objected:
quote:

The bishops have missed the point….. reducing the ‘consequences’ from abortion to an act of contraception is still endorsing contraception. Why is that bad?.. because it fails to acknowledge that that conception would not have happened had God not allowed it. I.E. He has other plans we are unaware of. He alone decides when conception (That’s the beginning of life, not implantation). Another example of fuzzy thinking which the Evil One just delights over. “How quick bright things come to confusion!”.

Regardless of whether this medicine can prevent implantation, and so is equivalent to abortion for those who believe life begins at conception, I think the reader is correct that this is the first instance of which I have heard in which a national conference of Roman Catholic bishops has approved the use of an undoubtedly contraceptive medicine. Whether a woman who is raped and uses the morning-after pill is doing something forbidden by using a contraceptive, or whether she would be irresponsible not to use it, remains a matter of opinion. But I think the argument that God wants rape victims to get pregnant if they do so is losing force.

Pete's opinion that abortion is not possible before a woman becomes pregnant following implantation is obviously a possible point of view, but it goes against Roman Catholic tradition which holds otherwise. In any case the morning-after pill seems to be winning acceptance in unlikely places.

[ April 05, 2013, 08:10 PM: Message edited by: hobsen ]

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Pete at Home
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That's great news, hobsen:

quote:
On Feb. 21, the German Bishops' Conference announced that Catholic hospitals under their jurisdiction could prescribe the “morning-after pill” to rape victims, a policy shift that reflects the position of the U.S. bishops.
Thanks for the heads up.

Not an attack on you, hobsen, but I'll reiterate my objections to the double-fallacy "life begins at conception."

1. A sperm and egg are alive therefore it's not a question of when life begins.

2. In the bible, and in other pre-1900 usages, the usage was "the woman conceives." So conception describes something involving the woman's body. For authority lovers out there, the few times I've seen any medical doctor use the term conception was to refer to implantation, not to fertilization. Therefore it's more accurate to describe conception as implantation. Pregnancy begins with conception, and conception is implantation. Failure to implant is not the abortion of a pregnancy. Use of the word "conception" to denote fertilization is revisionist nonsense.

[ April 05, 2013, 08:21 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Pete at Home
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The Catholics do come up with a valid argument against the judge's move to make Plan B available to minors without a perscription:

quote:
"Plan B does not prevent or treat any disease, but makes young adolescent girls more available to sexual predators," said Deirdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the conference, in a statement.
Particularly in cases of continual sexual exploitation, such as pimping or cult abuse. [Frown]

I don't buy the argument that MAP will increase sexual activity. I am concerned that unprescribed proliferation of MAP might lead to decreased use of condoms, and therefore to higher transmission of STDs. So while I don't see the court's decision itself re nonprescription dispensation as slam-dunk correct or unproblematic, I do strongly and unambiguously agree with the reasoning that MAP does not effect abortion.

[ April 05, 2013, 08:41 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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noel
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- "Not an attack on you, hobsen, but I'll reiterate my objections to the double-fallacy "life begins at conception. "...

Feel free to attack me Pete, I reject this reasoning completely:

- "1. A sperm and egg are alive therefore it's not a question of when life begins. "...

Cells scraped from the inside of your cheek are "alive", but at no point in their life cycle will they be capable of producing a human being. A fertilized human egg can do this at two different stages in its life cycle. It has independent identity entirely unrelated to implantation.

- "2. In the bible, and in other pre-1900 usages, the usage was 'the woman conceives.' So conception describes something involving the woman's body. "...

... Like having supplied half of the genetic material in a fully viable morula?

I have never been impressed with appeals to authority, so the third argument can be dismissed of out-of-hand.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
2. In the bible, and in other pre-1900 usages, the usage was "the woman conceives." So conception describes something involving the woman's body. For authority lovers out there, the few times I've seen any medical doctor use the term conception was to refer to implantation, not to fertilization. Therefore it's more accurate to describe conception as implantation. Pregnancy begins with conception, and conception is implantation. Failure to implant is not the abortion of a pregnancy. Use of the word "conception" to denote fertilization is revisionist nonsense.

Heck, if you're going to go by the Bible, then the whole matter gets easier, because it most clearly puts forth that life begins at the first breath, and doesn't actually count the death of an infant as an appreciable loss until one month of age. And you don't even have to go back 50 years to find evidence that the Evangelical branches of Christanity, use that as their baseline for looking at the issue. It's only in the past 30-40 years that they realized that there was a lot of potential for social and political power in changing their position and pretending it had always been so.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by noel:
Cells scraped from the inside of your cheek are "alive", but at no point in their life cycle will they be capable of producing a human being. A fertilized human egg can do this at two different stages in its life cycle. It has independent identity entirely unrelated to implantation.

No it can't, any more than a tree can be said to be capable of producing a table. And even when a tree is felled, milled, and built into a table

A woman's womb and endocrine system uses fertilized eggs to provide the blueprints and raw materials to build new humans (sometimes more than one from the same materials), but on its own the single cell would just produce more undifferentiated cells.

A cheek cell is a poor comparison but an adult stem cell can be implanted as if it were a fertilized egg and grown into a new, distinct individual. (We've done it in animals, though haven't worked out all the bugs in the process).

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Pyrtolin
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(Going back to the Bible would also be good for the contraception end of things, since there is absolutely no scriptural support for opposing it)
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
2. In the bible, and in other pre-1900 usages, the usage was "the woman conceives." So conception describes something involving the woman's body. For authority lovers out there, the few times I've seen any medical doctor use the term conception was to refer to implantation, not to fertilization. Therefore it's more accurate to describe conception as implantation. Pregnancy begins with conception, and conception is implantation. Failure to implant is not the abortion of a pregnancy. Use of the word "conception" to denote fertilization is revisionist nonsense.

Heck, if you're going to go by the Bible, then the whole matter gets easier, because it most clearly puts forth that life begins at the first breath, and doesn't actually count the death of an infant as an appreciable loss until one month of age. And you don't even have to go back 50 years to find evidence that the Evangelical branches of Christanity, use that as their baseline for looking at the issue. It's only in the past 30-40 years that they realized that there was a lot of potential for social and political power in changing their position and pretending it had always been so.
That's another bit of revisionist untruth. Both the NT and the OT have references to communications to and responses from persons still in the womb. Including but not limited to Jesus and John the Baptist.

I note with annoyance the repetition of that mind-numbing "life begins" mantra, when a sub-101 understanding of biology should let us know that when humanity begins has nothing to do with when LIFE began. A sperm and egg are alive. Clearly a fetus is alive. If the Bible said a fetus wasn't alive, the Bible would be wrong, and we'd all know it. But the Bible doesn't say so.

Note that I was not using the Bible as authority on when abortion is acceptable or not; I'm simply using the Bible to illustrate how the word "conceive" was used before abortion became a political game.

As for the history of Christianity, one of the first things that Christianity did when it had power in Rome was to outlaw the then-routine practice of exposing unwanted newborns. Concern for fetal life is a natural extension of that concern for infants' lives.

Anyone who has convinced themselves that anyone feeling sympathy for a fetus is motivated by a desire to control women, has seriously spent too much time in a feminist echo chamber.

[ April 06, 2013, 10:06 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
(Going back to the Bible would also be good for the contraception end of things, since there is absolutely no scriptural support for opposing it)

Strongly agreed. The story of Onan isn't a prohibition on birth control, but a prohibition on cheating widows out of their inheritance. I'd not be surprised if the folks who first misinterpreted the story as a prohibition on birth control were scribes and notaries who made their living cheating widows out of their inheritance.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
That's another bit of revisionist untruth. Both the NT and the OT have references to communications to and responses from persons still in the womb. Including but not limited to Jesus and John the Baptist.

And prior to the womb and after death. That suggest that the soul is independent of the physical body not when the life of a particular body actually began.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/10/30/hey-remember-when-evangelicals-were-pro-choice-because-of-the-bible-what-a-difference-30-years-makes/
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/10/29/revisionist-memory-white-evangelicals-have-always-been-at-war-with-abortion/

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/30/my-take-when-evangelicals-were-pro-choice/

quote:
In 1968, Christianity Today published a special issue on contraception and abortion, encapsulating the consensus among evangelical thinkers at the time. In the leading article, professor Bruce Waltke, of the famously conservative Dallas Theological Seminary, explained the Bible plainly teaches that life begins at birth:

“God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed. The Law plainly exacts: 'If a man kills any human life he will be put to death' (Lev. 24:17). But according to Exodus 21:22–24, the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense… Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.”

The magazine Christian Life agreed, insisting, “The Bible definitely pinpoints a difference in the value of a fetus and an adult.” And the Southern Baptist Convention passed a 1971 resolution affirming abortion should be legal not only to protect the life of the mother, but to protect her emotional health as well.

quote:
I note with annoyance the repetition of that mind-numbing "life begins" mantra, when a sub-101 understanding of biology should let us know that when humanity begins has nothing to do with when LIFE began. A sperm and egg are alive. Clearly a fetus is alive. If the Bible said a fetus wasn't alive, the Bible would be wrong, and we'd all know it. But the Bible doesn't say so.
Leaving aside the fact that you're slipping across different semantic senses of the word "life" there, the point is to counter those that are asserting that the Bible or religious principles should be applied. It's not to say that when life begins, but rather to point out that not only should the Bible not be relevant to the secular legal debate, but that it doesn't even support the position that its advocates want it to.

quote:
Concern for fetal life is a natural extension of that concern for infants' lives.
How so? That's only true if you presuppose it to be true; if you project your modern day biases baack on them.

quote:
Anyone who has convinced themselves that anyone feeling sympathy for a fetus is motivated by a desire to control women, has seriously spent too much time in a feminist echo chamber.
No one has done that. Rather the claim is that, at the worst, those who are responsible for developing the tactic of claiming such sympathy are spewing disingenuous bullcrap to try to justify perpetuating a tradition of control. At the best, it serves as a rationalization to resolve the cognitive dissonance that comes from actually confronting and understanding existent inequity.
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Pete at Home
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"rather to point out that not only should the Bible not be relevant to the secular legal debate"

That's foolish. A court of law should not treat Bible as The Moral Authority, however, it is a cultural artifact, and an historical document, and as such is perfectly relevant in the sense I used it, e.g. as an example of how a word was used historically.

"Rather the claim is that, at the worst, those who are responsible for developing the tactic of claiming such sympathy are spewing disingenuous bullcrap to try to justify perpetuating a tradition of control."

Like I said, that argument sounds to me like the product of an partisan echo chamber, a disengenous excuse to try to justify disengaging one's brain and conscience and just following the party line.

[ April 07, 2013, 07:13 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
"rather to point out that not only should the Bible not be relevant to the secular legal debate"

That's foolish. A court of law should not treat Bible as The Moral Authority, however, it is a cultural artifact, and an historical document, and as such is perfectly relevant in the sense I used it, e.g. as an example of how a word was used historically.


Except that, in English, the Bible can only give us a sense of how various translators have historically decided to use language to express the concepts within it, and more particularly what personal spin they wanted to put on its contents. All it takes is one little tweak of, say "faith of Jesus" to "faith in Jesus", to transform a phrase that was originally written to encourage and empower people to try to live up to his example into one that's designed to make them more susceptible to control by religious authorities. On the other hand you can also find phrases like "cause a woman to give birth prematurely" which actually means "miscarry" but now suggests something different because technology has allowed us to create a significant amount of separation between the concepts that simply didn't exist in earlier usage.

The Bible, when compared to its original languages, can be useful for looking at how people tried to shape its meaning and a bit of insight into what certain phrases implied in the context of the culture that generated them, but it's not very useful for understanding what any given words means to people today.

quote:

"Rather the claim is that, at the worst, those who are responsible for developing the tactic of claiming such sympathy are spewing disingenuous bullcrap to try to justify perpetuating a tradition of control."

Like I said, that argument sounds to me like the product of an partisan echo chamber, a disengenous excuse to try to justify disengaging one's brain and conscience and just following the party line.

Did you read any of the links above? They note some of the timeline of Republicans seizing on abortion as a political ploy to weaken Democratic support, not because of any fundamental opposition to it, but because it was politically expedient and how in the space of about four years Evangelical leaders completely reversed themselves on their position in order to play up to such political expediency. You've got it exactly backwards here.
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Pete at Home
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Gobsmack, Pyr. The King James Bible was translated back the time of Shakespeare. That makes it a cultural artifact it shows how words like conception were used at that time. This really isn't that complicated.

your anecdote about faith in Jesus vs faith of Jesus, is fascinating, and I would love to see you start a thread on that, but to my knowledge we have not yet descended to the point where courts are taking upon themselves to determine what faith means. And thank God for that, since that is not the business of the court.

[ April 07, 2013, 10:56 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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