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This is a bit difficult for me to write. I've just had a conversation with a good friend of mine. We regularly compete as to which of us is a bigger liberal, but he ceded yesterday that I would probably win because he is anti-abortion (that is to say, anti-choice). We were just texting, and I didn't want to get into it with him, so I just asked him to clarify: "Are you against abortion in all cases, or do you think it should be legally permissible for women who are raped, victims of incest, or whose lives are threatened?"

His answer below the fold.

He told me that he was against abortion in all cases except those in which the mother's life is threatened.

This did not sit well with me.

However, as I said, we were texting and I didn't think that was the best way to have a debate, so I didn't pursue it.

This evening, however, we went to go get ice cream with a mutual friend, and afterward, on the way to a store across the street, our conversation from yesterday came up. I told him that I would bring up the topic of abortion with him another time, but that now wasn't it. He said, essentially, bring it, let's talk about it now.

So I posed the question that had been on my mind for the past day. It is necessary to know that he has been dating a girl -- call her Rose, though that's not her real name -- for almost two years now, and I believe that each is the other's first boyfriend/girlfriend. Although their relationship isn't perfect, they are extremely well matched. It wouldn't surprise me at all if they ended up married. So I asked:

"If Rose was raped and became pregnant as a result, would you force her to have the child? She cannot be an exception to the rule. If you had the ability to determine unilaterally the circumstances under which women can or cannot have abortions, would you stick with what you said yesterday and force her to bear the child or would you allow her the choice as to have an abortion or not?"

He said he would force her to have the child. This surprised me, and it visibly upset our (female) friend who was with us. We did not continue our conversation, however, out of respect for the people in store we had just entered.

Personally, I am pro-choice, but like many of us with that position, I cannot see myself in a position in which I would choose to abort my child in circumstances that did not include rape, incest, or my own (or another bearer's) life.

That is a BIG exclusion though. And frankly, if his convictions are that strong, he either a) wasn't taking me seriously because of the hypothetical nature of the question, or b) is more honest than I knew and has stronger convictions than I knew. Either could be the case. But even if it was the latter, that small amount of respect he gains in my eyes for being that forthright and frank is absolutely and completely eclipsed by the realization that he would force his first and as-of-yet only love to bear a child she had had forced upon her because of an insistence on adherence to dogma instead of compassion for a victim of one of the most ruthless experiences a woman can endure.

Although it has little to do with the question of moral righteousness, the fact that he is a pretty jealous boyfriend made it even more surprising to me that he would not or could not see beyond his own notions and attempt to appreciate the horrible sentence he would be administering to someone he alleges to love.

We did have time before entering the store to have one last quick exchange. He stated as we got out of the car that this belief of his stemmed from his view that life began at conception. (He was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic high school, though he is now agnostic at the least. Perhaps that could be the root of this misconception?) I was perhaps a bit insensitive to this, though, having read Kali Joy Gray's post The Personhood Amendment: Rights for eggs but not for women yesterday, and went the ad absurdum route by pointing out the getting of one's driver's license at 15 years and 3 months or buying alcohol at 20 years and 3 months, but before we could continue, we were in the store and our conversation was over.

I know, even within our own community here at DKos, people are bound to disagree about some things. But it is always shocking to me to find out that someone with whom I have lampooned right-wing logic and ideology countless times bases such a huge personal interpretation of morality around such a cornerstone piece of right-wing ideology. I thought that, maybe, if I presented him with a scenario closer to home, it would ground him a little bit and make him realize what he would be condemning thousands of women, if not more, to, by making him consider what he could be condemning his own love to as well. I guess I was wrong.

Perhaps I should just hold onto the fact that it was all hypothetical. "Rose" is one of my very good friends, too, so I would never, ever wish on her or any other woman that this thought experiment become reality. But perhaps for people so ideologically entrenched, the only thing that can elucidate the right decision is to have to make it in real life. If that's the case, I'd rather him live in ignorance. But I certainly hope that our conversation gave him something to think about, so that he can see it from my and Rose's and every other blindly condemned woman's perspective without having to ever come face to face with this ugliest of possibilities.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Nobody Actually Believes All That When You Follow (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    all the consequences cascading out of their so-called belief that a penetrated egg is a citizen.

    The first to confront is the fact that the greatest and most eternal holocaust in all of life is the The Lord™'s killing of most penetrated eggs long before they have a chance to breathe. Estimates I've found searching online run into the 75% range.

    So 75% of all deaths happen before birth.

    Kinda makes war, diarrhea, cancer, old age and heart disease seem pretty trivial doesn't it? One logical consequence is that all our important scientific and scholarly investigation should be focused on saving 75% of "humanity" to survive birth.

    So then one would think we need to make women a class protected as no class has ever been protected in all history, even royalty. Absent a physician's certification that they are physically unable to reproduce, they must be presumed to be carrying undiscovered citizens except during their monthly menstruation. We all know they're best not to approach at that time in any case.

    They'll have to be spared heavy housework and any manual labor, ingestion of any kind of artificially prepared foods or beverages that could contain undiscovered threats, protected from potentially contaminated water, given monthly medical care throughout their reproductive years, protected against environmental pollutants....

    You know it would probably be simplest if we let them own and run the world, and all of us men took all the risks. You can't be too careful where potential life is at stake.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 07:55:11 PM PDT

  •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
    it is always shocking to me to find out that someone with whom I have lampooned right-wing logic and ideology countless times bases such a huge personal interpretation of morality around such a cornerstone piece of right-wing ideology.

    Careful, that "right wing ideology" is a critical piece of a whole crapload of religious dogma. You have just attacked a great many sects and adherents as "right wing". A lot of those adherents consider themselves to be liberals and progressives, "the christian left" and suchwhat becuawse they beliefe in racial equality or oppose poverty or whatever.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 07:59:25 PM PDT

  •  Yeah this friend has issues (6+ / 0-)
    He said he would force her to have the child.

    If I were this dude's girlfriend, I'd presently be his ex-girlfriend.

  •  Liberal or conservative it has nothing to do with (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ethics. The issue is who controls the wombs... women who have them or males who need them to reproduce.

    It is the eternal "ownership of the resource". Where do babies come from? Not from a few minutes of mindless egg seeking sperm in thier millions to compete with other egg seeking sperm who might shut them out (which also has to do with monogamy being practiced in thier minds by the females primarily - hence killling cheating females as a number one cause of death for breeding age females)

    I read that primates will actually dismember females who will not accept thier sperm. Have we really come that much farther than that?

    Abortion is an issue for women who cannot have babies (and need the babies from others  who can produce them) , women  who are submissive and fearful of the inherent violence in males they are surrounded by(some of that violence is not so hidden) and males who see that being dependent on a female agreeing to carry the eggs fertilized by them as being a diminishment of thier power to control sex and females.

    Fear is the Mind Killer

    by boophus on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 08:46:30 PM PDT

    •  To quote Edward Abbey (7+ / 0-)
      Abolition of a woman's right to abortion, when and if she wants it, amounts to compulsory maternity: a form of rape by the State

      •  Absolutely. This is apower struggle over the means (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Urizen, CherryTheTart, tardis10, big annie

        of production. It has little to do with morality especially by males who think nothing of killing thier wives, girlfriends and children if thier power is threatened. You hear this in comments and statements by males because thier weakness re controlling females is a big factor in how other competing and potentially murderous males might perceive them.

        I am one who thinks the issue of abortion should hinge on this argument. That womens uteruses do not belong to anyone but them. If the state can find a way to take the unwanted embryo or fetus and bring it to term then more power to them. Until then it is HER body and we outlawed slavery over a century ago even of something as appealing to our softer sides as infants (hormones). Though I have seen some on the religous right defending slavery so that too is a telling sign that thier objections to abortion have more to do with power over reproduction.

        When iwas in the AF I was the third women in the AF to have a child and NOT get thrown out (thought they did thier best to block me meeting requirements so I would be discharged). Within 2 years I wanted to have my tubes tied. The religious Drs refused to sterilize me though I had documentation that I was told NOT to get pregnant again because I would surely die. My life meant nothing because to them I was just a walking womb ... the doorway through which at this point in time all humans come through. And to them they had to control that doorway.

        Fear is the Mind Killer

        by boophus on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 09:10:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Forgot to finish last sentence. Control that door (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Urizen, CherryTheTart, tardis10

          way at any cost to the female. No cost to them.

          Fear is the Mind Killer

          by boophus on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 09:21:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Ayup (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jan4insight, annrose

          I like getting "conservatives" to explain to me why they think the government has a right to reach inside of anybody's body.  "So where does it stop?" I ask them, "if it belongs in there, it belongs in your home, your paycheck, and everywhere else, don't it?"

          Haven't yet found one with a sensible answer to this (not that reason could ever change those kinds of minds).

        •  I hate to jump around... (0+ / 0-)

          But I hope you read this before replying to my reply to your first post.

          I absolutely, 100% agree that a woman's body is her own, and, if possible, even more so that if the state or scientists generally were capable of coming up with a way to transfer the fetus to a surrogate or a "test tube" and it was able to develop into a person, that would be absolutely the best possible choice among consenting adults when abortion is wanted by the mother and not the father.

          I'm just saying above that I think that in those cases, where rape is not the issue, it is the responsibility of the mother and the father to come to a decision about whether the child should be born. Ultimately, the father cannot force the mother to have the child -- and so far, it is not medically possible so far as I know to allow the child to be born in a way in which the mother doesn't have to give birth. However, it should still be a decision that the couple reaches together.

          •  It is but a short step from Both making a decision (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Urizen, CherryTheTart, tardis10

            to forcing her through pressure or law to submit to HIS wishes. If he wants to walk away at any time he is free to do so. If he desires a child that she does not why should she take the risks to fulfill his wants at no cost to himself.

            It is never a case where he should have any say in how her body is used especially if they have a very uncommitted relationship.  Even in a marriage the cost to her is far higher then to him.

            I grew up in a family where my mother lost her ability to conceive. My stepfather wanted a son and he was the sole breadwinner. So my mother let him use me from 5 years old to 12 as a toy with the intent to impregnate me when I hit puberty(per him). I heard them discussing this several times though as a child I did not have a clue what was going on. But as my mother told me "He treated me well" so I was supposed to be compliant. He kept trying even into my 20s.  I grew up in the so called Bible belt and had 3 ministers tell me he was the master of the house and I should obey.

            There is no morality in using female bodies as if they were livestock.

            Fear is the Mind Killer

            by boophus on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 09:57:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm very, very sorry you had to go through this. (0+ / 0-)

              I cannot imagine what that was like, but I want you to know that I don't take for granted how terrible and central a part of your life this must be.

              In a comment lower down, I confess to being an ideologue and befriending people who are similarly inclined. Maybe my hope that two people can settle the decision calmly, rationally, and without pain is a myth, or at least so rare as to be insubstantial. I honestly don't know, but my hope remains that it is possible for two people who are faced with a tough decision to do so together. I think that, at it's core, is why I am a liberal: I would rather try tackling problems together than individually.

              If you thought that I meant that anyone's body was equitable to livestock, I don't know what gave you that impression, but I absolutely agree with you. The assertion that feminism is unnecessary in today's society is both laughable and deplorable.

    •  While I mostly agree with what you're saying, (0+ / 0-)

      I do, personally, feel that it's important in consensual relationships to give some weight to what the man wants. Yes, it is the woman's body, and yes, she will be burdened for nine months and have to go through the pain of childbirth, but consensual sex is a two way street. Both parties are required to get pregnant, so, in my view, both parties enter into a contracts with full knowledge of the risks involved. In an ideal world, those risks -- including what to do in the case of an unwanted pregnancy -- would all be known beforehand. But we don't live in an ideal world. So in the event that an unplanned pregnancy happens between two people who haven't talked about that eventuality, both are equally responsible for discussing what to do with the child.

      A friend of mine was actually the one who shared this perspective with me for the first time, and I have to admit, it made me uncomfortable at first. But one point she made was, if a man should be expected to not run out on a woman he has impregnated, as should be the case, then just as much, a woman should not terminate that pregnancy without at least discussing the abortion with the man. Both entered into the act that caused the pregnancy, so both are responsible for the ultimate choice of where to go from there.

      I know that this is can be an unpopular view, and to anyone who may be offended, I am sincerely sorry to have done so. But among consenting adults, I think it's only fair to demand each acts like an adult and considers the opinions of the other.

  •  Perhaps you could ask your deluded friend (5+ / 0-)

    If he might feel just a little guilty if 'Rose' the supposed love of his life were to die in childbirth giving birth to this hypothetical rapists baby. Or indeed, since being male the pain of childbirth is a matter of academic discussion, how he would feel seeing his friend suffer these pangs. Or, on a more philosophical note, why he can loudly proclaim the rights of everyone granted them in a 'liberal' point of view, except when the woman actually gets pregnant, and how is this different from the rights one would give up if born a different color?
        You will realize it is pointless to argue with such people. I have tried. Frankly, my statement always comes down to "It's her body, she can do with it as she likes, and if you don't like it...go fuck yourself".

    An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

    by MichiganChet on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 08:46:35 PM PDT

  •  Anyone who would force (5+ / 0-)

    their girlfriend to do anything has serious control issues.  Your friend may think he is a liberal, but his beliefs are more important than his girlfriend's health--or mental health. That is not the sign of a liberal to me.  I suspect that 10 years from now he will be a right winger,  because the world won't do what he wants it to.  The comment about being jealous is another clear marker that control is a huge issue for him.

    The next question is what he would do if his gf went ahead with the abortion.  If it is murder, should she be executed?  Thrown in prison for life?  20 years?  Branded with an A on her cheek?  That is never addressed by the wackos, exactly what it would look like.  So what does he think should happen to her?

    Not all those who wander are lost.

    by Leftleaner on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 08:54:06 PM PDT

    •  You make some really good points. (0+ / 0-)

      It's a bit strange talking about someone I like and am close to in this way, though. I don't know if you saw the post earlier today about the person who threw away voter registrations marked "Democratic," but I sort of understand the person's lack of response after getting advice to turn her friend in. They're your friend in spite of some of the stupid things they do or say, and it's hard to turn your back on them.

      That said, I agree, my friend does probably have control issues. I guess the best thing that I can hope for is that this question will really bother him and eventually he'll come to the conclusion that he was wrong.

      I do have to disagree with you on his turning his back on liberalism. I know that compassion and empathy is obviously lacking in this instance (which is really one of the biggest reasons it bothered me so much), but he's not a bad guy, and I tend to befriend hopeless ideologues like myself, so I know he's capable of empathy. That's one of the reasons I'm still holding out hope that he can "see the light." It would be a complete abandonment of everything that makes him who he is if he "switched sides." It's possible, and has happened before, but I just don't see it happening with him.

      And I've never thought of the "punishment" aspect. That's intriguing, thanks for that!

    •  He'll not only be a winger, (3+ / 0-)

      he'll be an abusive spouse. I sincerely hope the girlfirend sees this guy for what he really is, and moves on.

      'I'm The 99%' T-shirt: Will donate from income on sales.

      by jan4insight on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 10:10:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't understand where these religious (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    dogmas that insist life begins at conception come from...

    What is the theological foundation for them in Christian religions, most of which take their moral guidelines from the Bible?

    In the entire Bible, there is only one verse that can be directly linked to abortion and that is not a very strong link....
    "The Bible does not deal directly with the subject of abortion. The nearest we have to a ruling on abortion is at Exodus 21:22. The New American Bible says:
    When men have a fight and hurt a pregnant woman, so that she suffers a miscarriage, but no further injury, the guilty one shall be fined as much as the woman's husband demands of him, and he shall pay in the presence of the judges.

    The meaning of this seems to be that if men negligently cause a woman to suffer a miscarriage, then it is a civil matter, with the penalty to be determined by the woman's husband and payment supervised by the judges. But, if the woman herself is hurt then it is a criminal matter.

    From this we may deduce that the biblical authors would probably have approved of abortion, provided that the procedure had the consent of the woman's husband.

    Read more:

    Considering that Leviticus and Deut books are full of 'sins' that require capital punishment ... deliberately or accidently causing a woman to miscarry just merits a fine.

    These scriptural literalists are so damned inconsisent...

    That said, your friend is bad news for any woman ... he needs intense therapy .. is he a descendent of one of those southern European groups that dictated that the rape victim had to marry her attacker?

    Give your heart a real workout! Love your enemies!

    by moonbatlulu on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 09:16:45 PM PDT

    •  That Bible quote is interesting. (0+ / 0-)

      I've never seen it before, having not been to church more than a handful of times since I could read (and having never read the Bible on my own since, though I think it would be a very enriching exercise).

      I don't know precisely the answer to your question. I'm not sure which tribes those would be or even what modern day countries they would be in. I know he is of at least partial French descent (and proud of it!), so I guess it's plausible that he is. I doubt his "ancestral memory" correlates to that, though. My guess is that it is a vestige of his upbringing with the Church, and he will either see past it or he will not (a safe bet, eh?).

  •  Why the need to even clarify (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, CherryTheTart, tardis10

    a woman's right to choose instead of recognizing a woman's right to have autonomy over her own body?

    Why even ask if being permitted to obtain a safe and legal abortion is okay if only when a woman is raped or would die?

    Why the clarifications?

    Or stipulations?

    I love Pootie Diaries

    by arizonablue on Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 09:56:11 PM PDT

    •  Mostly, I was curious. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I wanted to know where he drew the line. Just because I ask the question, doesn't mean that I believe any of the possible answers.

      I'm a lot more likely to convince him that abortions are a woman's right if I can at least first know where he stands to begin with, and then, once he's demonstrated how radical his position is, convince him in little bursts. My first attempt failed. I wrote this diary mostly because I was shocked and upset that it did.

  •  Your friend is an abuser of women. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, annrose

    He has it all going on: control issues, jealousy, etc.

    I hope his girlfriend has the intellegence and fortitude to leave his ass before he hurts her.

    I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

    by CherryTheTart on Tue Nov 01, 2011 at 12:26:58 AM PDT

  •  But whether a fertilized egg is a person (0+ / 0-)

    is really not decisive.  I don't agree that it is, but even if it were, we don't have an unqualified obligation to keep other people alive.

    If a person will die without a transfusion or a bone marrow transplant, the law is fairly clear that we cannot be compelled to give part of our bodies to keep that person alive.  (Of course, in most cases, we should probably do it, but it should be our own decision.)  To make an exception in the case of pregnant women, that they must maintain the life of another person, is to make women second class citizens


    It should also be pointed out that if there is an unqualified obligation to keep other people alive, then we are responsible if we have money in our pocket and a person anywhere dies because they cannot afford food or medicine.  Anyone who has a dollar when someone in the world starves ought to suffer the same penalties as a woman who decides to have an abortion.

  •  Bottom line is... (0+ / 0-)

    Generally, what you believe in the abstract takes on all sorts of variations when it's ACTUALLY you or someone you love who is in the situation.

    I've seen anti-abortionists who are regularly protesting outside clinics suddenly become "pro-choice" when it's their 12 year old daughter that's pregnant.  You see, they have a good reason for the abortion of their daughter's "child", but all those other women in the clinic are just sluts who deserve to be forced to have a baby against their will.

    On the other hand, I've also seen extremely pro-choice women choose childbirth when they had previously declared that if they were pregnant they would choose abortion.

    Remember the "Brady Rule".  Ronald Reagan's sidekick Jim Brady was anti-gun-control.  Until. He. Got. Shot.

    Abortion Clinics OnLine, the world's first and largest source for online abortion clinic information. Join my DK Abortion Group.

    by annrose on Tue Nov 01, 2011 at 06:14:35 AM PDT

  •  Oh, look at this (0+ / 0-)

    From CNN::

    In giving life, women face deadly risks

    Maybe this might introduce some perspective into your controlling, potentially abusive male friend. But then again, maybe not.

    An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

    by MichiganChet on Tue Nov 01, 2011 at 07:53:28 AM PDT

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