Time To Rethink Your Conscience

Most of you know how much I like Andrew Sullivan, and I’m not a fanatic about abortion either way. I’ll never have one, but I think it is none of my damned business what other people do with their medical decisions. I’m comfortable with our current law, which allows for people who dislike abortion to never have to have one. With that in mind, reading this from Sullivan just really irritated me:

I am immensely grateful to those readers who have shared such personal, painful experiences with such candor and open hearts. I have to say that I remain somewhat shaken by the emails – many of which we didn’t publish. They reminded me of the human beings behind these tragedies, and forced me to reassess my own certainties and beliefs. I still cannot in good conscience support these abortions; but I can offer my profound gratitude for the readers who have forced this blogger to see things I had not fully grasped so keenly before; and to return to them respect and empathy in the particulars, even while we may disagree in the abstract.

There have been countless examples the past few days of the kinds of tragedies families go through that lead them to have a late-term abortion; here is a famous example from the NY Times in 2004:

Instead of cinnamon and spice, our child came with technical terms like hydrocephalus and spina bifida. The spine, she said, had not closed properly, and because of the location of the opening, it was as bad as it got. What they knew — that the baby would certainly be paralyzed and incontinent, that the baby’s brain was being tugged against the opening in the base of the skull and the cranium was full of fluid — was awful. What they didn’t know — whether the baby would live at all, and if so, with what sort of mental and developmental defects — was devastating. Countless surgeries would be required if the baby did live. None of them would repair the damage that was already done.

I collapsed into Dave. It sounds so utterly naive now, but nobody told me that pregnancy was a gamble, not a guarantee. Nobody told me that what was rooting around inside me was a hope, not a promise. I remember thinking what a cruel joke those last months had been.

We met with a genetic counselor, but given the known as well as the unknown, we both knew what we needed to do. Though the baby might live, it was not a life that we would choose for our child, a child that we already loved. We decided to terminate the pregnancy. It was our last parental decision.

Some thoughts:

1.) What is wrong with your conscience that you “can’t support” their medical decision in these tragic cases?

2.) No one is asking you for your support, anyway. They are just asking that you help stop the people who are bombing the clinics where this is done, shooting the few doctors who provide these procedures, distributing wanted signs with rewards for their murder over pictures of them, hassling and stalking the people who work there, etc. In other words, they are asking that you treat the people threatening all of these people on a daily basis to be treated as they are- as a terror cell. But your support for their medical decision? Trust me, your moral support is the last damned thing on their mind.

3.) Andrew is wildly against single-payer. It’s socialist. Is he regularly donating to a charity that helps pay the millions of dollars of medical bills that multiple futile heart surgeries or multiple spinal surgeries these babies must endure before they die? Even the rosy scenario he posted yesterday states that only 50% might live in some diminished capacity after multiple surgeries. Or are these poor women supposed to not only give birth to a child that will probably never live a healthy day in its short life, in a risky childbirth that may kill the woman, but they also win hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills for futile procedures? Sorry about your luck, lady, but we have people’s consciences to think about here. Does Andrew think the only people going through this are upper East Side liberals with platinum health insurance and a six figure income and a disdain for human life? Is anyone in the pro-life community funding this for people? Or are they just too busy trading bomb-making tips with Operation Rescue?

What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business. We’ve turned into a nation of busybodies and scolds, and people just need to back off. And that goes for the people opposed to and trying to make illegal Andrew’s marriage, for people like Andrew who sound like they want the weight of the law to come down on people making tragic medical decisions that lead to late-term abortions, for the nutjobs who thought they knew better than Michael Schiavo how to handle his horrible situation with his wife, to the lunatics screaming “murder” when we do stem cell research, and so on.

I’m really sick of the crap, and I don’t mean to harsh completely on Andrew, because I sense he does struggle with these matters. But if Andrew’s conscience can’t support a late-term abortion, then right now he is sitting pretty, because under our current system, anyone who doesn’t want an abortion doesn’t have to have one.

And that really should be the end of that.

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395 replies
  1. 1
    donovong says:

    Seconded. EOM.

  2. 2
    erlking says:

    Amen, John.

  3. 3
    JL says:

    Thanks John, Yesterday a small part of me hoped that Randall Terry would choke on his chicken wing.

  4. 4
    El Tiburon says:

    IF men got pregnant, abortion kits would be sold in your local 7-11 next to the Ho-Hos.

    This is all about power and controlling women.

    These people are seriously demented.

  5. 5
    schrodinger's cat says:

    I wonder what the opinions of these conscience-striken men would be if they were the ones who got pregnant. It is so easy to moralize about the choices you are never going to face.

  6. 6
    SGEW says:

    What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business. We’ve turned into a nation of busybodies and scolds, and people just need to back off.

    This is one of your finest, Mr. Cole.

  7. 7
    Cat Lady says:

    Word.

  8. 8
    Zifnab says:

    I would have loved to see the Democrats tie health care reform to every single one of the obnoxious abortion regulation bills we’ve seen over the last decade.

    It’s really hard to support the pro-life movement when you’ve got people in the same party asking how to keep poor people out of emergency rooms. I don’t know anyone who is a “fan” of abortions. But I’ve seen enough people parading around campus with big “Save the Babies!” poster signs that don’t give a flying fuck about babies after they’ve exited the uterus.

    “What’s that, kid? You’re done being born now? Well, then you’re on your fucking own. Here, have a bible. Just hope Jebus likes you.”

  9. 9
    Zifnab says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Don’t be silly. Sullivan can’t get pregnant. He’s gay.

  10. 10
    Foxhunter says:

    @SGEW:

    This is one of your finest, Mr. Cole.

    I was just feeling the same. Best post in quite some time.

  11. 11
    Gex says:

    Funny. All your examples are right wing positions. Interesting, innit?

  12. 12
    The Saff says:

    @El Tiburon: You are so right. I was just saying this to my husband last night. Why on earth would anyone think that a woman would make this kind of gut-wrenching decision lightly?

    And thanks, John, for your post.

  13. 13
    DougJ says:

    This annoyed me too. I was thinking of writing about it earlier, but I was hoping you would instead, because I think Sully takes you more seriously.

  14. 14
    Scott says:

    I honestly don’t get the impression that Andrew Sullivan struggles with his conscience much at all. He helped publicize “The Bell Curve.” He said non-Republicans were traitors. He wholeheartedly supported Bush until the winds changed. I’ve never seen a drop of evidence that his moral sense is any more developed than Goldberg’s or Malkin’s. He just screams a bit less.

  15. 15
    El Cid says:

    But… but… the most important thing in the world is Andrew Sullivan’s conscience, and in particular the need to make sure that one looks visibly pained in coming up with various decisions.

    One would not wish to look rushed or incautious in proclaiming oneself morally superior to those seeking abortions for any reasons, or in pronouncing one’s liberal foreign policy rivals as a traitorous “fifth column”, or finding onself “revolted” by anti-Iraq war marches.

    It is always best to look heavily pained as one’s conscience leads one to condemn one’s liberal opposition as morally inferior if not worse.

  16. 16
    valdemar says:

    Well said. Just started following this blog. I’m a Brit, and Xian types have been repeatedly trying to make abortion a hot issue here, indifferent to (or perhaps encouraged by) the misery the bigots cause in the US. Fortunately most people here accept abortion as a woman’s right however distasteful they find it.

    Re: ‘socialism’, when I was a kid the National Health Service saved my eyesight. A few weeks ago I suffered a detached retina, and the NHS saved half of my eyesight. I have no problem paying taxes for state healthcare, anymore than I have paying for state law enforcement or education. They are all important to the maintenance of a civilized modern society.

  17. 17
    bperk says:

    This is a great post. I feel like the position on the left of making abortions rare is just a big old judgment on women who have made or will make that choice. I much prefer your mind-your-own-damn-business approach.

  18. 18
    Alex says:

    I pretty much describe myself as “pro-choice by default”. As a gay man, I will never become pregnant and I will never cause an unplanned pregnancy. Frankly, I don’t often participate in abortion debates because I can’t presume to judge the state of mind of a woman (or a bio-parent couple) in this sort of situation. I don’t see how Sullivan can presume to do otherwise.

  19. 19
    Jim says:

    I caught about three minutes of the Chris Matthews show yesterday, as he interviewed Will Saletan on this question. Tweety kept repeating “Why don’t they just have the baby?”. Saletan brought up hard cases like this, but then assured us that most late-term abortions were teenage girls who were in denial in their first trimester or afraid to talk to their parents. These, Saletan assured us, complete with John McCain asshole-finger quotes, were those “emotional issues” silly people always babble about.
    Channel flipping a half-hour later, Tweety was addressing these same questions (after declaring that Sonia Sotomayor was too “opaque” for his tastes, and that he wasn’t sure if she was a bully, or just “feisty… like Judge Judy”) with Eugene Robinson and Howard Feinman.
    The total of four and a half minutes I saw was one of most striking unconscious self-parodies of our political media I’ve ever seen. I can’t stomach a whole hour of Matthews, but I wonder if, at some point, at the insistence of a producer, Tweety did give three constantly interrupted minutes to a person with, you know, ovaries.

  20. 20
    chopper says:

    if men were the ones that got pregnant, we wouldn’t be the ones running the world so the hypothetical scenario is kinda moot.

    all in all i think sully’s an idiot a lot of the time. this is a case of the blind squirrel not finding a nut if you ask me.

  21. 21
    DougJ says:

    Even the rosy scenario he posted yesterday states that only 50% might live in some diminished capacity after multiple surgeries.

    In many cases, living in some diminished capacity after multiple surgeries is the worst case scenario. My aunt worked at Children’s Hospital in Boston (the cutting edge of keeping these kinds of kids alive) and couldn’t believe that they put these kids through sometimes in the way of surgeries.

  22. 22
    Dave says:

    @Gex: Can we stop with Right wing versus left wing? Half of the reason why this country is so forked right now, is we can’t seem to have honest debates about what makes “fucking sense” because each position is labeled either a RIGHT WING or a LEFT WING position.

    Until we get away from what WING a position is in, and back to “what makes fucking sense”, we’re doomed.

  23. 23
    Laura W says:

    I was disappointed that KO let him slide on by with this shit last night. Very disappointed in the deference KO showed.

  24. 24
  25. 25
    Danton says:

    I read some of the stories on Sullivan’s site. My reaction was complicated. My wife and I have two wonderful kids now moving on or through college. Both of them have done quite well and were admitted to notable liberal arts schools. At the risk of boasting, I think we (at least so far) have been good parents–strict but not too strict, always there for the kids, consistent, concerned about their development, loving and supportive, helping them understand the balance between responsibility and freedom, and everything else that goes with raising kids.

    I read some of those stories and felt a deep empathy with the men and women who had to make agonizing choices. I hope I can explain this clearly, but I felt the same love, principles, values, and care these people put into their decisions to terminate pregnancies very clearly would have been exercised in raising children had they not encountered such awful circumstances. ANd they would have raisied really great kids.

    Last night, I found myself thinking about their stories and I wondered and hoped most of them were lucky enough to get a second and successful shot at having children.

  26. 26
    BerkeleyMom says:

    Thanks John. Well said. I sent an email to Sullivan last night expressing similar thoughts (though not as eloquent as yours here) after I saw him on TV yesterday (don’t get me started on all these old white men discussing women’s reproductive health).

    There are tragedies going on every single day in doctors’ offices that are nobody’s business but those involved. Why women have to tell their horror stories to the public (and Sullivan apparently) in order to somehow get permission to avail themselves of lifesaving, legal medical procedures is just beyond me. And still Sullivan, who will never face these heartbreaking decisions, passes judgement and says he will work to make these medical options unavailable.

    I live in CA where every year a close friend has to fight for her handicapped child to receive state benefits. I see that our governor has these defenseless (born) children on the chopping block due to the budget crisis. Who in their right mind would choose to give birth to a severely disabled child seeing the way they are treated by our political leaders?

  27. 27
    wilfred says:

    Sullivan can worry about his precious conscience because he’s never been in the position of that couple who experienced the worst fear any potential parent can have, and he never will be.

    Most people who have sweated out an ultrasound or know what a nucal fold means don’t talk about such things.

    Sullivan is a gobshite wanker of the first order. Why anyone gives a shit about anything he says is beyond me.

  28. 28
    NonyNony says:

    I’m really sick of the crap, and I don’t mean to harsh completely on Andrew, because I sense he does struggle with these matters. But if Andrew’s conscience can’t support a late-term abortion, then right now he is sitting pretty, because under our current system, anyone who doesn’t want an abortion doesn’t have to have one.

    Andrew’s Catholic, isn’t he? Growing up in a Catholic environment I understand where he’s coming from, but he needs to grow up. The Catholic Church likes to peddle easy sounding, black and white solutions to problems that are not easy and not black and white. You need to allow for compassion in the black and white reality that the Church dictates and know when the Church is full of shit and acting like the rules-driven Pharisees the Jesus smacked around in the Gospels. That’s what this debate is from the Church’s perspective – they’ve made a rule and God-dammit, everyone must be guilted into accepting that rule as absolute and without any shades of grey where compassion needs to be allowed into the mix.

    Even though I left the Church behind years ago I still have the abortion issue preying on my conscience – the Church does a number on your psyche that even distance from doctrine doesn’t completely erase. But anyone who can read the stories about the families who needed Dr. Tiller’s services and NOT be able to support those families with a clear conscience needs to do some heavy growing up. The world is not a simple place, and when the difficult questions get asked compassion has to take precedence over “rules”.

  29. 29
    El Cid says:

    @Dave: To an extent I’d like that, but the problem is that most of my living history, simple truths and effective solutions could not be discussed without being dismissed as left-wing lunacy.

  30. 30
    John Cole says:

    Funny. All your examples are right wing positions. Interesting, innit?

    I don’t even know what this means.

  31. 31
    drunken hausfrau says:

    Amen, brother John. And I want a T shirt that says “What this country needs right now is some shut up and mind your own damned business.” Maybe with a catchy little graphic image.

  32. 32
    merrinc says:

    What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business.

    I’ve been saying exactly that for years. The rest of that fine rant, I just wish I’d said.

  33. 33
    Rey says:

    IF men got pregnant, abortion kits would be sold in your local 7-11 next to the Ho-Hos.

    Amen brother! And abortions would be advertised along with the countless keep your dick hard medications that run incessantly on tv.

    And what John Cole said- Thank you.

  34. 34
    SGEW says:

    A passing thought, poorly worded:

    Does the “culture war” (abortion, birth control, homosexuality, promiscuity, “sin,” etc.) really just come down to a failure to grapple with the notion that humans are simply biological organisms, subject to the capricious literal nature of neurology, environment, and genes?

    Does the debate over evolution [approximately] equal the debate over abortion and gay marriage?

  35. 35
    DougL (frmrly: Conservatively Liberal) says:

    I don’t know why Sullivan is concerned about abortion, is he going to have one? It’s a decision that is best left to the people who are involved in it, the women. The last thing a woman needs is some asshole guy sticking his nose into her business.

    Annie has it right; the Talevangelists only want to control the sex lives of women and punish any woman who has sex in a manner that they do not approve of. They are pro birth, not pro life. They don’t love humankind, they only love their twisted concepts.

    They do not know compassion or understanding, they have no need for mushy librul crap like that. Gawd is all they need and they are ready to shove him down your throat because they think you need him too. Dare to disagree and they might have to kill you just to prove to you how right they are and how much their Gawd luvs ya.

    We may talk about how advanced and sophisticated our civilization has become but there are times that I feel like there are still too many people still living in caves, clubbing women and dragging them around by their hair.

  36. 36
    WMass says:

    Sullivan is great at sounding erudite and very well educated while being a stupid racist asshole. To say he had a boner for W is a massive understatement. Sullivan was one of his most rabid defenders for years. He pushed the Bell Curve, then a year or two ago there was an article on Slate, basically the Bell Curve again but with even more ridiculous pseudo science, and he pushed it hard. He adores the Catholic church, no matter how much they shit on gays and molest children, which is why he hates abortion so much (plus it is a problem which will never directly affect him). He can afford decent health care, so he doesn’t give a flying fuck about single payer. If he was not such a good writer, more people would notice what a complete jerk he is.

  37. 37
    PurpleGirl says:

    Well said John and good comments, too.

  38. 38
    Stooleo says:

    Until the last few days, I haven’t really given much thought to these late term abortions. Admittedly, its been a real eye opener. I wish I had the numbers, but I would guess that over 95% of these abortions were due to some sort of problem with the fetus and not some mother changing her mind about having a child. Pro choice folks have been shying away from these late term abortions due to the “ick” factor, but I say they should be spotlighting these examples, because the need for medical assistance is most dire. One must feel sympathetic to these women who only wanted a healthy child. Oh yeah, and Sully is kind of a douche.

  39. 39
    SarahLoving says:

    Yes, that disappointed me too. I think Andrew’s sense of intellectual superiority gives him ‘blessed assurance” that he is a Valuer of Life and if only those dang parents were smrt like him, they’d see the error of their simple way of thinking.

    I really think his ego is getting in the way of his empathy on this issue, and it makes me sad because he’s such a powerful and provocative voice in many cases.

  40. 40
    Bernie says:

    What has always infuriated me about the debate about late term abortions is the way the anti-abortion side frames the debate. If you only listened to them, you would think that any women can just go to a clinic and get an abortion at any time during her pregnancy. Listening to Bill O’Rielly’s psychotic rants against Dr. Tiller, you would think he was someone who performed late term abortions to get rich. He constantly made the point that he did them for “$5000” and was a millionaire, as if he made his fortune solely by performing late term abortions. He never mentioned how Kansas law always for this kind of procedure when the health of the mother is at risk or the child has little or no chance of survival outside the womb. No, a women can just go there and get an abortion when she feels like it (assuming she has $5000 that is).

  41. 41
    Indylib says:

    I was actually reasonably impressed with Sully yesterday when he was on Olbermann. I thought he was thoughtful and made a good case that the murder of Dr. Tillman was a case of Christianist terrorism. And then he blurted out the same comment that John notes above. How “touched” and “shaken” he was by all the accounts he’s gotten from the people who had gone through the horror of being in the position to need the kind of abortion Dr. Tillman performed, but then blabbed on about how he was still against them. And my first thought was , “Fuck you, Andrew.” It’s damned easy for him to say that, he will NEVER be in the position any of these people were in.
    He will never become pregnant and will never father a child. Talk about lack of empathy. He expressed sympathy but could not bring himself to put himself in these poor peoples shoes enough to acknowledge that he didn’t have the right to decide what they should have done.

    And Sully’s hypocrisy on the religious front is irritating. For all the screaming about the fundementalists, both Islamic and Christian he does, he believes that his Catholicism has the right to inform him about abortion, but not homosexuality. He must believe abortion is wrong because he is a Catholic, but he doesn’t have any problem breaking with the church on homosexuality and gay marriage. Could that possibly be because he’s gay, but will never be pregnant?

  42. 42
    OldK says:

    I’ve never paid attention to how blog posts get nominated for those various awards, but this one tops my list for this year, at least.

    Thanks for tying it all together, John. This reminds me of Obama’s speech at Notre Dame a few weeks ago — the part about presuming good faith in those who disagree with you. A lot of these issues would go away if the “busybodies” would presume good faith on the part of others, and try to empathize. Many social conservatives continue to talk about these abortions as if people were just getting pregnant on a lark just so they could terminate. Even when they don’t say so, I think that those underlying impressions — that abortions are always because of recklessness or callousness — color their perceptions of this issue. But maybe I shouldn’t talk, since it’s been a really long time since I’ve had this conversation with a true believer. All the conservatives I know seem to just go along with the platform because the social conservatives are their fellow travelers.

  43. 43
    Bill In OH says:

    Very well put, John. I couldn’t agree more. The bit about conscience reminded me of a button a friend in college used to wear. It was guaranteed to stir up trouble amongst the “abortion offends my conscience” crowd. It said something to the affect of “So you’re pro-life? Well, adopt an encephalitic mongoloid or shut the fuck up” I think that still sums it up pretty well.

  44. 44
    Laura W says:

    @Rey:

    And abortions would be advertised along with the countless keep your dick hard medications that run incessantly on tv.

    I counted at least two of these very same commercials in between RACHEL’S SEGMENTS ON ALL THIS last night on MSNBC. They were seemingly new commercials…a guy in the gym talking about his love sword getting bigger and more long-lasting with this pill while someone ran on a treadmill behind him? Another guy on the couch with his wife, she wearing a smile of deep fulfillment and sublime satisfaction, while he talked about his massively manly new erections. I just had to mute it.

    I can only stomach so much incongruity and hypocrisy in one day. Seriously.

  45. 45
    retr2327 says:

    1) great post, as so many have said.

    2) yes, Sully could stand to wrestle with his conscience a little more here, but he deserves some credit for at least being able to see — and empathize (there’s that word again) with — the other side. Too many on both sides can’t.

    3) no sign of a conscience? Give me a break: he’s earned a lot of credit in my book for his relentless and first-rate opposition to tortue.

    4) a bit of a jerk at times, with some real mistakes in his past? Yes, but at least he’s owned up to them.

    5) nobody’s perfect. I first came here during the “Jane Hamshers of the world” kerfuffle; not John’s (or Jane’s) finest hour. And I’m sure there’s more in the past, and may be more in the future, that won’t hold up too well.

    6) but I’ve grown to really appreciate your voice, John. Thanks again. And say hi to Tunch for me.

  46. 46
    BombIranForChrist says:

    Excellent post.

    I disagree with Andrew often, but it IS clear from his bazillion posts that he does struggle with this stuff. Still I would really like to hear his explanation as to why its better to wait until a vegetative child is born with half its brain missing so that it can suffer and die on a metal hospital table than it is to compassionately end its life as soon as possible.

    Abortion is a really difficult issue that I also struggle to reconcile in my mind, but Andrew’s opinion seems too cut and dry for someone who is usually capable of a more nuanced range of compassion.

  47. 47

    I too like Sullivan and read him regularly. I understand his argument against single payer, but he is dead wrong. The late term abortion pseudo-sympathy post was a bit much. He claims to make a “conservative” argument to support gay rights but can’t quite seem to make that leap for things that he doesn’t have to personally deal with (pregnancy and healthcare). I wonder how he would feel if he was suddenly no longer covered by his employers very generous healthcare benefits?

    @El Tiburon: My favorite is: “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” I think in Andrew’s case it’s appropriate because he also happens to a Roman Catholic. Which leads to the obvious point that men will never have to make that decision for themselves.

  48. 48
    Cerberus says:

    Applaud. Thank you John. It’s always grating to see this hemming and hawing usually by men who will never ever be in that position. What we have now is the compromise between female autonomy and personal beliefs. No one no matter how dangerous or medically necessary is forced to have an abortion against their will and if it’s against your religious beliefs you or your partner don’t need to ever have one or even be at a clinic where they are performed.

    But somehow they always want more, because the idea that women somewhere might be fucking without their permission, without human-delivered divine retribution, tears at the core of their being.

  49. 49
    Warren Terra says:

    Righteous post there.

    And yeah, Sully is a narcissist and absolutely refuses both accountability and meaningful introspection, and he did about as much as any one person not named Peretz to destroy The New Republic. He was on the right side on the 2008 campaign and on torture, but while he’s a fantastically talented blogger and will fight his corner fiercely you should never expect any intellectual honesty underlying his choice of which that corner will be. I get the sense that Sully considers himself honest, and that he won’t lie to his readers, but he also won’t do the work of being honest with himself.

  50. 50
    Mike P says:

    Damn, I just woke up and read this. I think I’m gonna go bench press a few cars right now. John Cole’s gotten my dander up (in a good way).

    Great post, John. Loved every word.

  51. 51
    wilfred says:

    Sullivan pales next to Garry Wills when it comes to self-examination of being Catholic, etc. Wills once wrote of priests:

    A man without a wife to puncture his pomposity, without children to challenge his authority, in relations carefully structured to make him continuously eminent, easily becomes convinced of his superior wisdom

    Sullivan is a kind of priest in the blogosphere. If the shoe fits, throw it.

  52. 52
    Breezeblock says:

    Well said. No, perfectly stated.

  53. 53
    greynoldsct00 says:

    What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business. We’ve turned into a nation of busybodies and scolds, and people just need to back off.

    So well said… marry me?

  54. 54
    PeakVT says:

    I’ll just recycle this.

  55. 55
    Will says:

    @El Tiburon:

    If men got pregnant, the right to choose would be the 2nd Amendment.

  56. 56
    someguy says:

    Religion isn’t worth a damn if it fails the test of rationality. Sullivan’s argument boils down to “my experience and knowledge tells me one thing but my religion tells me another, so I’ll disregard the facts.”

    Time for a new religion, Andy. One that isn’t patently irrational. Good luck on that, BTW. Let me know how it works out.

  57. 57
    Lyle4 says:

    Is he regularly donating to a charity that helps pay the millions of dollars of medical bills that multiple futile heart surgeries or multiple spinal surgeries these babies must endure before they die?

    This rhetorical, right? The VAST majority of pro-lifers don’t give a dam about a kid once it’s born. About its health, about its family, about its living situation. All that matters iS YOU CAN’T KILL THE BABIESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sullivan’s constant “struggle” with being Catholic annoys the hell out of me. I dunno, I probably just don’t get it. Generally, if a group of people despised the way I live, I tend to say, “Alright, I don’t like you either!” But I’m immature like that.

  58. 58
    WarrenS says:

    I posted a diary yesterday on Kos: My Mother’s Abortions.

    Her life was saved on the operating table by a “partial-birth abortion.” A few years later, she had me.

    Link:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/.....-Abortions

    Thanks as usual, John. Great post.

  59. 59
    Colette says:

    My previous donation to Planned Parenthood was in “honor” of Sarah Palin. My most recent one was in memory of George Tiller. Looks like my next one will be in in honor of Andrew Sullivan. Jebus, what a hypocritical tool.

  60. 60

    @Laura W:

    They were seemingly new commercials…a guy in the gym talking about his love sword getting bigger and more long-lasting with this pill while someone ran on a treadmill behind him? Another guy on the couch with his wife, she wearing a smile of deep fulfillment and sublime satisfaction, while he talked about his massively manly new erections.

    Please have mercy on us poor males. We are being emasculated on a daily basis by all the feminists so what do you expect? Poor me. Boo hoo.

    I may have linked to this previously (May not be NSFW) but it ties in perfectly with the point you make. Note the title of the video.

  61. 61
    redbeardjim says:

    If men could get pregnant, they’d be women. In which case either women would be men, and nothing much would be different from now, or we’d all be hermaphrodites and be forced to find some other stupid reason to dislike each other.

  62. 62
    Da Bomb says:

    I read Sullivan from time to time. Sometimes he can be a little too self-serving.

    I especially didn’t care for the Bell Curve crap either.

    But I completely in agreement with your observations.

  63. 63
    The Saff says:

    My almost 9 year old niece (Catholic school kid in South Carolina) recently proclaimed that she doesn’t like Barack Obama because “he’s a baby killer.” Not sure who is putting those ideas into her young mind but I doubt she’s getting them at home.

  64. 64
    Laura W says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum:

    Please have mercy on us poor males. We are being emasculated on a daily basis by all the feminists so what do you expect?

    I expect your twin daughters to kick your emasculated ass into shape for the rest of your damn life, that’s what I expect.
    ;-)

  65. 65
    Rey says:

    @ Laura W

    a guy in the gym talking about his love sword getting bigger and more long-lasting with this pill while someone ran on a treadmill behind him?

    Lol.. haven’t noticed this one. The reality is the guy that’s popping the pill should have his fat ass on the treadmill. Like the Jenny Craig, Nutrasystem madness. Eat this miniscule amount of food and everything will be fine. NO- get off your ass and move something.

  66. 66
    The Other Steve says:

    We need to turn this debate away from the doctors. They’re just doing their jobs.

    The people who are making the decisions are the mothers.

    If the pro-life movement starts going after the mothers, they are going to find the earth open up beneath them.

  67. 67
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    We’ve turned into a nation of busybodies and scolds

    What’s this “turned into” stuff Kemosabe? This country has *always* been a nation of busybodies and scolds.

    Move out here to Flyover Country. The county residency requirements are rather extensive:

    1) Own one gas guzzling street legal vehicle
    2) Own at least 4 tools powered by 2-stroke engines
    3) Own at least one motorized watercraft
    4) Own at least one non-automobile vehicle, ie, ATV, motorcycle, go-cart, etc
    5) Be a busybody and scold
    6) Own at least 10 firearms

    Srzly. Live here. Oh wait, don’t.

  68. 68
    neddie jingo says:

    We’ve turned into a nation of busybodies and scolds

    Was there ever a time when we weren’t a nation of busybodies and scolds? Temperance League, Carrie Nation, Fr. Coughlin, the list goes on…

  69. 69
    Lupin says:

    Andrew Sullivan has always been a sanctimonious shit peddler who would have no job if it weren’t for the internet, and would be forced to work as…

    (Here my imagination fails.)

  70. 70
    schrodinger's cat says:

    The VAST majority of pro-lifers don’t give a dam about a kid once it’s born. About its health, about its family, about its living situation. All that matters if YOU CAN’T KILL THE BABIESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!

    That seems about right. I think what the pro-life absolutists really want, is to control women and their sexuality, like religious fundamentalists of almost any religion (see for example, Taliban). Basically they would like to recreate the good old days when most women had no power, but saying that out loud will not make them popular and hence the focus on the unborn babies.

  71. 71
  72. 72

    It’s a fine post and right on target with respect to the core issues in this situation.

    I saw Sullivan on tv yesterday, and was thinking, why is this guy suddenly a spokesman for a point of view? He has no particular expertise, experience, or intellectual added value to offer, that would make him an obvious choice to be on tv, or making an appearance here, for that matter, to discuss this case. Does he?

    There’s a certain problem set visible at the root of this problem, which revolves around complex dynamics between demographics in this country, and is characterized by a lack of communication between opposed interests.

    I don’t understand why people would gather around to read, or hear, the blatherings of a Sullivan in a case like this. Doing so just seems to prolong the division and lack of empathetic connection needed to bring people together to a workable consensus.

    When trouble brews, the cable tv channels, and then the blogs, and the pundits, start their divisive chatter and seek out the dividers to pimp the divisions. Aren’t they all being part of the problem, and not part of the solution?

    And just to put the cherry on top of this sundae, I don’t join you in liking Sullivan. I don’t like him or anything about him, at all. Never have. Watching him yesterday on cable, I had a very strong impulse to put my fist through the television set. Reading what is clipped onto the top of this thread reminds me of my brother, who is a fanatical Catholic right to lifer, a guy who cannot bring himself to consider that he might be sticking his nose into other peoples’ business where it doesn’t belong. That kind of interference with others’ lives is something I just can’t tolerate.

  73. 73
    Chi-city says:

    but, but, but………they should have to listen to my morale authority…..

  74. 74
    Will says:

    @Laura W:

    KO, for all of his bombastic tirades, never actually debates anyone. I think that’s a rule in his format. If he has a guest on, it’s because they agree with whatever line KO wants to push that night. I think he’s trying to avoid the O’Reilly-screaming-at-your-guest thing…

  75. 75
    mcd410x says:

    But we’re proud Bristol made the right CHOICE!

    Seriously, John, know it’s been said, but excellent post.

  76. 76
    John@MM says:

    I’ve been a daily reader of this blog for quite awhile. I’ve only commented one other time. I’m also a daily reader of Sully’s blog. I was troubled by his comment on this issue. I think you nailed it.

  77. 77
    The Moar You Know says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for posting this, John.

  78. 78
    Joshua Norton says:

    I think what the pro-life absolutists really want, is to control women and their sexuality, like religious fundamentalists of almost any religion (see for example Taliban).

    The critical distinction isn’t so much what you think about abortion personally but whether you feel you’re qualified to tell other people how to live their lives. The right-wing entitlement complex manifests itself in the fundamentalist fringe in outrage at the idea of people having beliefs out of step with your own – so they don’t just oppose abortion and contraception, but everyone else needs to too.

    So whether or not you have sex or an abortion is irrelevant – what matters is that you think it’s filthy, pretend as hard as you can that it never happened, and call your daughter a whore and a slut, until she thinks of her sexuality as a horrific burden which has ruined her life forever.

  79. 79
    GReynoldsCT00 says:

    I think he’s trying to avoid the O’Reilly-screaming-at-your-guest thing…

    And my guess is he might be more of a human chainsaw that even O’Reilly…

  80. 80
    pandera says:

    Awesome. One of your best posts…and the best post I’ve seen on this issue.

  81. 81
    jrosen says:

    One of your best columns ever, John.

    My feelings in verse:

    The Forced-Birthers:

    Of fine-sounding talk they’ve no dearth.
    I would probably find greater worth
    In their clamor v. Roe
    If they started to show
    Some reverence for life after birth.

    ………BTW…what does the Bible say, if anything, about abortion?
    Just asking.

  82. 82
    tim says:

    STANDING OVATION FROM BOSTON.

    Thank you, John, for a heartfelt, well-expressed encapsulation of my own reaction to Sully’s vomitous, arrogant position vis a vis Tiller/abortion.

    I will never understand why you hold The Sulls in such esteem; he is a narcisist of the highest order; I believe he is incapable of empathy other than as a topic affects HIM.

    But I gained some respect for you today as a result of this post. Thank you.

  83. 83
    Laura W says:

    @Will: I wasn’t really looking for a heated debate or screaming tirade, Will. I would’ve appreciated a few probing, insightful questions, a la John’s post, or Rachel’s style in similar situations wherein she asks thoughtful questions in order to deepen the discourse and explore the other person’s positions in more nuance and complexity.
    Deep inhale. Long sentence.

  84. 84
    Cerberus says:

    Yes, with everyone, if pregnancy was a 50/50 possibility between both partners, birth control and abortions would be just as much a non-issue as cancer treatment and open heart surgery. It’s because they only inconvenience women that all the men get to wring their hands over it. It’s like straight people wringing their hands over gay marriage. It doesn’t affect them, so they get to get their moral jollies out.

    I suspect, it’s also a bit that for the current bundles of belief shared by fundamentalist Christians these days, there is no point on which they are on the moral side of things. I mean they can justify torture, racist discrimination, and discrimination against gays, but it’s really hard to get the moral sympathy from the masses on those issues. But as long as they pretend they’re literally saving cute babies from the Evil Sluts, they can at least have one issue with the trappings of moral superiority even as again they end up on the wrong side of the issue.

  85. 85
    schrodinger's cat says:

    How does Sullivan get to be an authority on late-term abortions any way, why am I not hearing more female voices and also ob-gyns who can talk about medical complications that might make a third trimester abortion necessary and neo-natal experts who can give us the odds of survival of the babies born with severe birth defects.

  86. 86

    @Laura W: They are doing a pretty job already. And thank you for reminding me that singing soprano in the choir has its advantages.

  87. 87
    jrg says:

    What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business. We’ve turned into a nation of busybodies and scolds, and people just need to back off.

    This is exactly what is turning young people away from religion.

    The only way this busybody crap is ever going to stop is if religious moderates start taking separation of church and state seriously, and start recommending that “faith-based” political organizations (like churches involved in partisan politics, including the Catholic church) get taxed like any other political organization.

    Until that day comes, holier than thou busybodies will continue to drive lefties, moderates, and people with common sense to be less religious.

    …and chalk me up with the folks who could not care less about Sully’s moral views – I’m not saying they are disingenuous, but they are noticeably convenient.

  88. 88
    Tax Analyst says:

    I haven’t read any of the comments yet, but John really said it all. I have nothing to add. Thank you.

  89. 89
    Scott H says:

    I can completely harsh on Andrew Sullivan, because he is an offensively patronizing git. He is entitled to his opinion, such as it is, but decency requires he keep it to himself. There is no test of conscience for an individual who will never face this terrible decision.

  90. 90

    […] with John Cole: What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned […]

  91. 91
    IndieTarheel says:

    @El Tiburon:

    IF men got pregnant, abortion kits would be sold in your local 7-11 next to the Ho-Hos issued with driver’s licenses at no extra charge.

    Fixed.

  92. 92
    DonkeyKong says:

    If you think a woman would carry a pregnancy to term and then abort the pregnancy for arbitrary reasons like, “I’m just not feelin this” you are not wrong or mistaken, you are just stupid.

    Fucking Stupid.

  93. 93
    Joshua Norton says:

    At this level, it isn’t even about “choice.” It’s about the open secret of the fundamentalist terrorist movement that believes your wife should be permanently maimed or die in order to deliver a fetus that has no chance of living outside the womb. When the position of the “pro-life” movement is stated this way, as it should be, often, I wonder how many Americans will agree with them.

  94. 94
    Krista says:

    Fantastic post, John.

    The denial of the anti-choice crowd would make your head spin. I ventured over to RedState yesterday to actually talk to some of them about it, and to ask what they would have women do, were late-term abortion rendered completely illegal. None of them really answered my question (except for one charmer named “Aaron” who told me that I was selfish for saying that if the choice was to abort or die, that I’d abort.) There was one girl there who was very cordial, and mentioned two acquaintances whose fetuses had severe anomalies, but chose to carry to term anyway, even though they knew the baby would die.

    She then clarified her remark to state that in one case, the fetus died in utero, and the woman had to have a therapeutic abortion in order to save her own health. I desperately wanted to say, “Well, if it was up to you and the others here, she wouldn’t have HAD that option, and would very possibly now be dead!” But by that point, Moe had already banned me, that petty little fuckstain.

  95. 95
    HY says:

    WORD. Sullivan is a pompous, arrogant prig, and the soapbox he has only makes him more so. Nice to see that other people have finally noticed.

  96. 96
    StrandedVandal says:

    Damn straight John.

    Worry about your own life, and let others worry about theirs. Help when you can, back off when you should, and respect others viewpoints.

    It really should not be that hard.

  97. 97
    jcricket says:

    What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business.

    John – your whole rant was great. I read Sully’s post (and his whole series of threads about the late-term abortions) and was initially impressed by his ability to see “past” his previous position on the issue. But, for someone who considers himself a “very serious person”, he sure can’t see through the basic logical flaws in his arguments as it pertains to setting up the law.

    The argument is never, ever, ever about whether people like Sully should be “comfortable” with any type of abortion. It’s simply about letting women, with the help of their medical professionals, make the appropriate decisions about pregnancies and women’s bodies. Even smart people like Sully seem to have forgotten how the legal system is set up in this country (hint: you’re not always going to be happy, and the majority doesn’t always get “its way”).

    I’m not comfortable with people getting married 6 times, or with racists being allowed to hold public parades, or frankly with old flabby people wearing speedos, but if there was ever legislation trying to ban any of those things, I’d oppose it.

    Moreover, Hilzoy and Publius (over at Obsidian Wings) have been pointing out the rank hypocrisy of anyone who thinks “abortion is murder, except in cases of rape or incest”. Look, it’s either murder or it’s not. If it’s murder, it’s not justified. If it’s not murder, then it’s basically not up to you, your feelings, your church’s dictates, etc. STFU and mind your own beeswax.

  98. 98
    nate says:

    If you think that the pro-life movement is all about “bigots” wanting to control women and their sexuality, then no wonder the abortion debate is so heated. There’s over-the-top, hateful, and blind rhetoric on both sides, and many posts in this thread are a good example of that.

  99. 99
    Emma says:

    BRAVO!!!! BRAVO!!!!!

    I know you like Sullivan, but he comes across as a conservative fart who only takes liberal positions when the reverse would affect him personally. He’s a good writer, so he can make it sound better than it would if coming from someone less talented.

  100. 100
    Brian J says:

    You can argue stuff like this from two angles, at least. The first is that, through a purely analytic/non-emotional perspective, an abortion is the best of the crappy options a woman is facing. If a child is going to be born with massive medical problems, perhaps terminating the pregnancy is the best option for all parties involved. There are always breakthroughs and miracles of some kind, but science is science, and there’s a reason that doctors favor evidence over faith: it gives everyone a key to what is likely to happen.

    The second, and perhaps overwhelmingly important case, is that it’s just none of your goddamn business, nor my goddamn business, what happens. If you are not involved in any way, then your opinion isn’t relevant to the case at hand. It’s tough for people who feel the need to shower their belief systems on others in a determined manner to deal with, but it’s the truth. Your comments above, and not only the one where you state exactly what I just said, illustrate this sentiment perfectly.

  101. 101
    itsbenj says:

    Does Andrew think the only people going through this are upper East Side liberals with platinum health insurance and a six figure income and a disdain for human life?

    exact-a-mundo. yes, that is just what he thinks. and people who speak of women’s reproductive rights with the same sneering disdain that he does.

    Sullivan is deeply phobic of women in general, as are most die hard anti-choice zealots. they’ve never thought any of this shit through, they just know it feels good to hate.

  102. 102
    ABMcC says:

    For me, this is Sullivan’s key phrase: “even while we may disagree in the abstract.” That’s a power move against those with whom he disagrees, a traditional Western move (dating from the Enlightenment’s gendered valuing of reason over emotion, abstractions over reality, idealism over empiricism, mind over body, men over women), and an invocation of what theologians call the ‘God’s eye view,’ which is so curiously and frequently invoked by human beings. Sullivan reveals much about his intellectual framework when he uses this phrase.

  103. 103
    Lyle4 says:

    @Krista:

    I ventured over to RedState yesterday to actually talk to some of them about it, and to ask what they would have women do, were late-term abortion rendered completely illegal. None of them really answered my question

    This reminds me of a video I watched during election season, with a bunch of psychos protesting during an Obama rally, with the gross signs and heinous pictures, of course. The guy simply went around asking these people, “If abortion were made illegal, what should the punishment for mothers be?”

    The ONLY person who answered said the mothers should never be punished, just the doctors, because anyone even considering abortion is clearly crazy and not capable of making their own decisions. Every other single person avoided the question.

    They just don’t have a god damn clue.

  104. 104
    stormhit says:

    It’s actually not difficult to see how one could support the Catholic Church’s philosophical thought on abortion while finding the homosexual argument lacking. This is because they aren’t just random rules pulled out of thin air. I know no one wants to read two thousand years of philosophical texts, but there’s more there than just rules being handed down willy nilly. Not that that’s going to change anyone’s mind on whether they’re right or not, and it shouldn’t. But the accepted ignorance of many who like to act like there’s no intellectual weight behind the formulations of the Catholic Church baffles me. And mind you, I’m not even talking anything Bible based here, and I’m certainly not expressing support for anything one way or another. I’m just saying it’s not actually hard to grasp how one could feel the way he does.

  105. 105
    jcricket says:

    If you think a woman would carry a pregnancy to term and then abort the pregnancy for arbitrary reasons like, “I’m just not feelin this” you are not wrong or mistaken, you are just stupid.

    A long time ago, here, John said something to the effect of: “This is what happens when the Republican party stops having a conversation with America and only talks to itself.”

    The much derided “empathy” is sorely missing from Republicans these days, and is at the root of all their attacks on taxes, foreigners, immigrants, non-Christians, people who sue doctors for malpractice, people who choose to have abortions, etc. They simply can’t imagine anyone thinking differently than them, or needing anything different than they do – or even their own situation being improved by having different options available (now or in the future).

    Republicans have become useless in offering solutions that address what real Americans, outside the top 1%, actually need.

  106. 106
    Fulcanelli says:

    What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business. We’ve turned into a nation of busybodies and scolds, and people just need to back off.

    Very well put, Mr. Cole. Timely and smart. This place is becoming addictive, especially in times like these.

  107. 107
    Fern says:

    Thanks John – this was perfect.

    Sullivan’s lack of real compassion in that comment was stunning – after all those heart-felt stories, he still sees abortion as an abstract principle, not the life-and-death issue that it is for so many.

  108. 108
    jrg says:

    If you think that the pro-life movement is all about “bigots” wanting to control women and their sexuality, then no wonder the abortion debate is so heated.

    Nonsense. If this was really about reducing abortions: 1) The fundies would support birth control, and 2) They would have been going nuts during the Bush years, as well.

    Instead, they oppose birth control at every turn, and only choose to start shooting people and blowing up buildings only when a Dem is in office.

    This is about control. I’m not as sure as others are that this is about “women” per se, but it’s certainly about what conservatives perceive is their right to control the most private aspects of other people’s lives.

    @Tuffy:

    He should go back using the Internet to troll for anonymous, unprotected gay sex. Oh wait, that gave him AIDS! LOL!

    You sound like as big an asshole as the xtian taliban. Knock it off.

  109. 109
    Thomas says:

    For most of the pro-lifers I know, its a “simple” black and white equation: abortion “kills” a human life, thus its immoral and the women involved should have no choice. Since they can’t get beyond that issue in their minds, conversation about abortion with these acquaintances tends to be extremely short and painful.

  110. 110
    Joe Bleau says:

    @jrg:

    I have to respectfully disagree, at least in the current context. In fact, Sully is exhibit A for the dangers of even “soft” or “moderate” religiosity. He’s done relentless (and admirable) work in opposing fundamentalism and “Christianism”, and his Special-Snowflake glibertarianism is certainly not compatible with burning the civic wall between church and state (in fact, like most of his glibertarian ilk, he seems to find taxes in general to be anathema – hard to see him supporting tax-free religion, but I suppose he could fall back to a strict literalist Constitutional argument). In many ways, he is the embodiment a “moderate Christian”.

    As I see it, the real danger that far too many religious people, even the modern flexible non-literal non-fundie types, are willing to countenance or even celebrate preventable human suffering here on earth because their faith tells them that God will square things up for all of us in the hereafter. It’s a big part of what allows them to push real-life circumstances aside and take brave principled stands “in the abstract”.

  111. 111
    Tim in SF says:

    I don’t read blogs that don’t allow comments, like Sullivan’s blog. Not allowing comments (even moderated, for God’s sake) leads to arrogant, smug writings that are unaccountable to the blogosphere. And Sullivan’s blog is a case in point.

    Sullivan will never get pregnant. Since he’s HIV positive, he will never father a child, either. He will never be faced with any of the horrible situations about which he was emailed by his many readers. His lack of empathy is astounding and offensive. He’s smart enough to know better.

    Shame on him.

  112. 112
    jcricket says:

    Instead, they oppose birth control at every turn,

    I think this is the key – get the fundies to air out their true agenda, and the American public will turn against it. Like the people who aren’t just against gay marriage, but also divorce (etc).

    Believe me, I’m for gay marriage and 100% in support of abortion rights, by themselves, full stop.

    But I also recognize political realities, and coalition building, etc. If you make it clear to “America” that the Republicans aren’t going to stop in the middle, but are forcefully trying to pull the country off the cliff over there on the right, you’ll get support for the progressive/liberal/Democratic cause.

    Although I also blame our side for failing to mount an affirmative case for our policies. As went our failing to articulate why taxes are good, so goes our failing to articulate why abortion, birth control, etc. are not some squicky things to be spoken of in hush-hush tones.

  113. 113

    i usually love my sully but he is showing the cracks in his edifice with some of his posts on abortion. i did up a post on it here.

    here’s my thoughts:

    I’ve learned a lot about late-term abortion over the last few days. Before the George Tiller assassination, I hadn’t given it much thought.

    After tearing away my ignorance, I came to a key realization: Most women who choose to undergo a late-term abortion really wanted to have a baby.

    Anti-choice demagogues like to demonize women who have abortions as irresponsible sluts who use abortion as a quick, easy form of birth control.

    This kind of bullshit really doesn’t apply to late-term abortions. These are women who have carried the fetus inside their womb for a long time, only to later discover that the fetus has a horrible, crippling abnormality or that delivering the pregnancy would threaten the mother’s life.

    Having learned the above, I find it even more important for me to speak out on protecting a woman’s right to choose. Issues as complex, personal and private as these don’t need me (or Sullivan) poking our noses in. We really need to back the fuck off.

  114. 114
    Lee Hartmann says:

    The best post on this subject I have ever read.

  115. 115
    Comrade Darkness says:

    I still cannot in good conscience support these abortions;

    Given this, I’m sure Sully would agree, wholeheartedly, that if Hillary Clinton is squeamish about certain kinds of surgery available for stage 3 testicular cancers that they should then be banned, because lord knows, how squeamish a few permanently uninvolved politicians are about a medical procedure trumps all medicine, and the rights of all patients, in all cases.

  116. 116
    Krista says:

    If you think that the pro-life movement is all about “bigots” wanting to control women and their sexuality, then no wonder the abortion debate is so heated.

    Actually, he has a point. Not all pro-lifers are about controlling women.

    My mom is a pro-lifer. We’ve agreed to disagree on things. I had asked her once if she at least supported abortion in the case of rape, and her response was that “the baby” was innocent in all of this, and that it wasn’t the baby’s fault, so why should the baby have to die?

    At that point, I changed the topic, because I wanted desperately to ask, “So if I, your daughter, was raped by some lunatic, and got pregnant as a result, you’d force me to give up my body AGAIN to carry a rapist’s child for 9 months?” I didn’t want to get into a big thing with her, but I can’t help but wonder if her mind would change if the argument went from the abstract to the actual. Hopefully we’ll never find out (knock on wood).

    In my mom’s mind, an innocent fetus does not deserve to die, and that any repercussions on the mother, while tragic, do not outweigh that child’s right to live.

    I haven’t asked her about her view on abortion when the mother’s life is in danger. As a nurse, I would hope that she would want the woman to live. But I’m afraid to ask her, because if her response is otherwise, I’ll lose an awful lot of respect for her.

    That’s the thing: I think a lot of the non-activist pro-lifers have this abstract notion in their head about these poor, innocent babies being killed, and it sets off a visceral response in them.

    They don’t stop and think, “What if that was me? What if that was my daughter?” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I think that the calling card of the pro-choice movement is that we’re better at empathy. We’re more easily able to put ourselves in the woman’s shoes, and we realize that we have no right to tell another woman what she should decide when faced with such a difficult situation.

  117. 117
    jcricket says:

    Since he’s HIV positive, he will never father a child, either. He will never be faced with any of the horrible situations about which he was emailed by his many readers. His lack of empathy is astounding and offensive

    Don’t forget that he expects all of us to care that he has trouble becoming a citizen or coming/leaving the country because he’s HIV positive. He wants us to have, what’s that called? Oh yeah, empathy, for a situation that almost none of us are in, and seems pretty unimportant compared to situations many of us are actually facing (like needing healthcare we can’t get due to the lack of socialized medicine).

  118. 118
    valdivia says:

    Not to repeat what other posters here have already said but–thanks John. Great post and *exactly* my thoughts as I read Andrew on this subject.

  119. 119
    Persia says:

    @wilfred: Not true. Sullivan doesn’t, for example, worry about poor people who can’t afford anti-virals. He’s just a jerk.

  120. 120
    Michael says:

    A few thoughts:

    1. A 5K price tag (assuming O’Reilly was truthful) would be a bar to frivolous use of the procedure.

    2. Medical privacy (including HIPAA) and common decency toward his patients has a real chilling effect on Tiller being able to make his public case against media attacks originated by Operation Rescue and the Right Wing Smear Machine.

    3. The women affected undoubtedly find it hard to talk about. Plus, who wants to expose herself (or her family) to the viciousness that would undoubtedly be directed at them if they shared their experiences as a defense of Tiller?

  121. 121
    Comrade Darkness says:

    or that delivering the pregnancy would threaten the mother’s life.
    Or, also important to point out, adds incredible risk to future pregnancies. Basically the right, in it’s mouth breather rush to judge everyone while being willfully blind to all circumstances those people may have, is condemning women who *want children* to not having them at all, or forcing them to risk their health/life to pursue the next pregnancy.

  122. 122
    gwangung says:

    If you think that the pro-life movement is all about “bigots” wanting to control women and their sexuality, then no wonder the abortion debate is so heated.

    Then why is virtually no one focussing attention on the “mother” as a murderer? And why does the pro-life movement totally disconnected from things that would reduce abortions and improve fetal care, like birth control and focussed health care for the mother?

    Sorry. When there’s a disconnect like that, it seems like bigotry to me.

  123. 123
    CT says:

    Sully gets credit from me for putting up all those stories in the first place, since they so eloquently argue against his position, but I was surprised to hear him conclude that he would rather adhere to an abstract principle than extend genuine, real world compassion to mothers and fathers in an incredibly difficult position.

  124. 124
    Bey says:

    Sullivan “struggles”? Bullshit.

    Sullivan ponders, Sullivan sandboxes, Sullivan idly considers, but Sullivan does not struggle. Abortion for Sullivan will never be anything other than a thought experiment. He needs a piping hot cup of STFU.

    I want to hear from people for whom the issue is real. And not just the tragedy pregnancies either. Focusing on them exclusively de-legitimizes abortion for the rest of us.

    I want to hear from people who stand up and say that the consequences of having sex should not be 20 years of crushing financial, emotional, and physical labor. And don’t hand me that crap about “don’t play if you can’t pay”. Sexuality is a need. It’s hardwired into who we are. Availing ourselves of it shouldn’t be punished – yes, punished – by the detour of our lives for 2 decades minimum. If we’re lucky, that is.

    Our entire culture seems to be focused on making sure men get their rocks off at every possible opportunity, but women? Please. We are all about punishing the slut.

    Jesus, the more I think about this the more enraged I get.

  125. 125
    Nancy Darling says:

    Thank you, John. While it is possible to have a rational discussion with the Andrew Sullivans of the world, we are at an impasse with the Christianists of the world. You can’t argue with someone who’s final authority is a Bible which they believe is the literal word of God. Point out to them the impossibility of Joshua making the sun stand still, or Noah building a boat that could house a pair of all the world’s insects let alone the rest of the animal kingdom and they pause for a nanosecond before blathering on about how anything is possible with God.

    To be fair, there are plenty in the tin foil hat brigade on the left. I had a discussion with a fellow member of an environmental/educational group I am part of. He believes that 9-11 was a government plot to give an excuse to go into Iraq and that no air liner flew into the Pentagon. He was unconvinced when I told him my nephew was stationed at Fort Myers in the Equestrian Unit of the Old Guard, he was involved in the clean-up at the Pentagon, and that there was, in fact, a plane flown into the Pentagon.

    I don’t know where we go from here. I can only hope that this too shall pass. Growing up in Kansas, I remember a time when the attitude was “you go to your church and I’ll go to mine, but let’s walk along together”. There was some minor conflict with Catholics before the first Vatican Council and some minor derision of the “Holy Rollers” (the Assemblies of God), but basically we all got along.

    I see faint signs of the fundamentalist’s day in the sun ending and the sweet, gentle voice of reason ascending. Until then, I can only try to follow Christ’s example when he said “I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took me in, I was in prison, and you visited me.” Also, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God”.

    I gave up going to church a long time ago, as the “Owen Meany moments” when I wanted to stand up and argue with the preacher were too hard to resist.

  126. 126
    Lyle4 says:

    @jcricket: Very good point jcricket, never thought of it that way.

  127. 127
    YellowJournalism says:

    Most people who have sweated out an ultrasound or know what a nucal fold means don’t talk about such things.

    Amen to that. It’s an emotional nightmare you never want to go through.

    Beautiful post, John.

  128. 128
    Michael D. says:

    Not sure I agree with your characterization of Andrew. If someone said to me:

    I have to say that I remain somewhat shaken by the emails – many of which we didn’t publish. They reminded me of the human beings behind these tragedies, and forced me to reassess my own certainties and beliefs. I still cannot in good conscience support marriage for gay people; but I can offer my profound gratitude for the readers who have forced this blogger to see things I had not fully grasped so keenly before

    I would be appreciative.

    Andrew is anti-abortion. When it comes to abortion, I can see arguments from both sides and why people are passionate about it, so I understand why he cannot support them. But Andrew is also not on a campaign to ban them, and is actually pointing out the wingnuttery of those who are on the far right on this issue.

  129. 129
    Yawgmoth says:

    The alternative, for so many of these women, would have been labor and delivery in a maternity ward. Surrounded by happy families and healthy babies. Getting to watch her roommate cooing and learning to change diapers while snuggling her poor doomed little angel for the last time. Anyone who thinks that should be standard is sick, sick, sick, sick.

  130. 130
    Laura W says:

    @jcricket:

    Don’t forget that he expects all of us to care that he has trouble becoming a citizen or coming/leaving the country because he’s HIV positive.

    Excellent point! Should’ve been raised earlier in this thread.

    @Bey:

    I want to hear from people who stand up and say that the consequences of having sex should not be 20 years of crushing financial, emotional, and physical labor.

    Jenniebee had some very good rants along this very line in last night’s threads and earlier ones, as I recall.

    “Our entire culture seems to be focused on making sure men get their rocks off at every possible opportunity, but women?”

    Yes, see my earlier point about TWO male organ enhancement pills or whatever in between Rachel’s segments on abortion rights last night. Mind boggling. Or not really.

  131. 131
    merrinc says:

    I’ve learned a lot about late-term abortion over the last few days. Before the George Tiller assassination, I hadn’t given it much thought.
    After tearing away my ignorance, I came to a key realization: Most women who choose to undergo a late-term abortion really wanted to have a baby.

    I quite agree. As a mother of two, I cannot imagine the unbearable anguish of feeling your baby grow inside of you for months, eagerly looking forward to the joy of birth and motherhood, only to have to make a decision that will surely break your heart. There are no words.

  132. 132
    Jason says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:

    CS is right. Protests at clinics are obnoxious but still worlds better than the Scarlet-Hysterectomy-with-bonus-Electroshock of modern vintage. Not that, and I’m sympathetic to John’s point here, the current state of affairs is satisfactory. Gynecologic issues did not stop being radical when they started selling OB,O at Waldenbooks; we do perceive a different ideology as radical, however. But this is all within my lifetime.

    Also, is there a word that’s been more drained of meaning and ethical purpose than “support”? What does Sullivan even mean by “I cannot ‘support’ this or that act.” – is it like a yellow-ribbon-magnet phrase, there? If I’m ever being lectured at a party by Your Racist Friend or Ms. Aisa Wordsmeanthings or a student who just took a class on poststructuralism, I like to ask them if they “support the troops.” If their brain doesn’t immediately fold back on itself and reduce them to scribbling equations on a cocktail napkin, I can go ahead and start insulting them. Either way the conversation gets better.

  133. 133
    jcricket says:

    Sullivan ponders, Sullivan sandboxes, Sullivan idly considers, but Sullivan does not struggle. Abortion for Sullivan will never be anything other than a thought experiment. He needs a piping hot cup of STFU.

    You know if that cup were hot enough to burn his genital region he’d be suing Starbucks for making it so hot.

  134. 134
    Lyle4 says:

    @Michael D.: No, your point fits in perfectly with what John Cole is saying. If someone said, “Oh, I like that you all wrote in saying how you’re gay and happily married and don’t in fact have the urge to sleep with little boys, but sorry, still can’t support it,” it would fall right in line with Mind Your Own God Damned Business.

  135. 135
    gbear says:

    Nothing that I can add to the conversation that hasn’t been covered with thought and clarity already. Thank you John for your great posting and thank you commenters for the sanity.

  136. 136
    Krista says:

    John, Doug, whoever…my 11:57am comment is in moderation, FYI. Thanks.

  137. 137
    jcricket says:

    @Nancy Darling:

    To be fair, there are plenty in the tin foil hat brigade on the left. I

    I think there are many, in number, but not nearly as many as there are nut-jobs on the right. And, more importantly the nut jobs on the right are pandered to, supported, well represented and a major part of the Republican party (see views of Inhofe, Tancredo, Bachmann or mouthpieces like Savage, Malkin, Coulter, O’Reilly, Limbaugh, etc).

    That’s the key difference. Imagine if Democrats actually catered to the tin-foil hat crowd, or the ELF. Republicans claim we do, but we all know that’s a complete lie. Even the true “leftists” in this country (not even the crazy eco-terrorist “left”) have like no power. We barely talk about unionization, single-payer healthcare, anti-poverty measures, etc.

    I think what’s happened is that the entire spectrum of debate has moved so far to the right that someone basically right of center (globally) like Obama is being painted as a leftist freakshow. And people are starting to realize it – that the right-wingers don’t have solutions to real problems, and that they aren’t representative of the “average” American.

    But I don’t know if enough people will keep voting Democrat/stop voting Republican, to make the fundies lose power quickly, or slowly.

  138. 138
    Elie says:

    There are probably a few things happening that impact the state of thie issue in our country right now.

    First, as pointed out upstring, the balkanization of this issue into “right” wing or “left” wing labels has made any real discussion impossible. The issue then becomes converted into pro and con slogans and placards and people throw these at each other without making any headway in either understanding much less resolving anything.

    The issue also is extremely emotional and symbolically linked to our most treasured cultural institution — motherhood. For many people, the emotions attached to feeling that women could make the linch pin in the structure of our family life basically disappear is a fear too profound to entertain. At all costs, this horrible outcome must be prevented in their minds. The empowerment of a woman to control her body therefore becomes the deepest threat to conservatives who believe that the cornerstone of our society and culture revolves around fixed roles and relationships such as motherhood, fatherhood and childhood. That is why I think that many against abortion are so seemingly disinterested in the life of children once they are here. Their may concern is about the safety and constancy of the role of motherhood — not the outcome of a single woman’s pregnancy — hence also the lack of interest in the horribly malformed fetus. They believe that if even one woman is allowed to make this choice, the whole institution of motherhood could come apart.

    A third issue somewhat related to the second is the advancement of science of embryology and genetics. We know more now how to manipulate who can become a “mother” and new options — aged mothers past 60, transgender and possibly other variations may also evolve. The point at which life actually begins has become more and more fuzzy and the knowledge about what before seemed really clear is more and more complex — adding to the stress of those who fear the change in the roles of parenting.

    I do not see that this will be resolved. Our culture will evolve new roles and understandings but the people threatened by this will continue to fight aggressively and sometimes violently.

    For myself, I was a nurse for several years on a unit that conducted second trimester pregnancy terminations. It is a dying skill set that has saved many a woman with an unviable pregnancy either due to anomalies in the fetus or her own choice. More than a couple of times, we terminated pregancies of young women who had been violated by their care givers and parent. Don’t forget about those.

    I believe in this option for all women who need it, but I recognize the complexity that it presents and I am humble about the challenges to our society and moral responsibility. It is not simple. There is no one painless, unconflicted answer but a series of necessary freedoms – with attendant obligations for all of us.

    Finally, our planet is swimming in too many people. We are almost past the ability of our earth to support the volume of people and the necessary burden on resources as well as the wellbeing of the other creatures also sharing this space. We will either control our numbers, or I believe the numbers will be controlled catastrophically by the events we trigger as a consequence. Control of pregnancy more than motherhood as an institution to me is essential to the long term survival of humans and we had better get wise to that real soon in my opinion.

  139. 139
    kay says:

    @nate:

    If you think that the pro-life movement is all about “bigots” wanting to control women and their sexuality, then no wonder the abortion debate is so heated. There’s over-the-top, hateful, and blind rhetoric on both sides, and many posts in this thread are a good example of that.

    Then stop being so cryptic and just make a list. Really. It makes my head spin. Andrew Sullivan did the thing moralists always do: he was faced with specifics that had to be grappled with, so he retreated to the abstract. What a luxury. Fat lot of help he is.
    I have another complaint. I was told, over and over by pro-lifers that fetuses were dismembered when a late abortion was performed. But I read the accounts of late abortions this week, and that isn’t what happens (with the exception of a situation like a nine year old rape victim, who is too small to deliver vaginally). In fact, the fetus is delivered intact, and that’s from first-hand accounts written by the women themselves. When I thought about it, I realized it makes no sense to dismember the fetus, so of course they’re delivered intact, because that’s safer for the mother. This is not a small point. Pro-lifers have used the dismemberment story over and over again, to ratchet up this issue.
    Are you making stuff up?

  140. 140
    SLS says:

    I heartily agree with this post.

    The hypocrisy of the ultrareligionists is truly remarkable. Where are these people when children need adoption? Basic healthcare? Vaccines?

    And let us not forget how the Catholic Church in Ireland – in its heyday and at the zenith of its political power — discharged its responsibility for the orphaned offspring of women who were forced to bear the children they couldn’t raise themselves. In various orphanges, these children were forced into slave labor, beaten and raped.

  141. 141
    Trinity says:

    Well stated John! This is why I am a regular reader.

    What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business.

  142. 142
    Shibby says:

    I like Sullivan. However, it’s infuriating reading him sometimes. He makes correct observations time and time again but ends up at the wrong conclusion. It makes for some really tortured logic that only appeals to some vacuous conservative ideal. An example:

    Gays should be allowed to marry! Yes!
    Torture is wrong! Yes!
    Religion should be personal! Yes!
    Obama is pragmatic! Yes!
    Burke was right! (smacks forehead) NO!

  143. 143
    jcricket says:

    @Laura W: And guess what, I do have empathy, and I see the logic behind his argument, and I support lifting the ban on HIV-positive travel/citizenship.

    But it doesn’t come from a place of knowing Andrew or anyone impacted personally. It comes from the deep well of liberal/progressive policy that makes me up. It’s just how I see the world.

    Andrew, apparently, has to back his way into tortured (no pun) support for the “logical” conclusion about any situation because he seems to think his bedrock principles are true.

    I think, frankly, when you find your conclusions to so regularly be at odds with your first instincts and/or bedrock principles, a deeper re-evaluation is in order. Andrew, in a sense, is like the modern day creationists or earth-centric folks, who keep trying to fit each new piece of evidence into their quite clearly broken fundamental theory.

  144. 144
    sarah in brooklyn says:

    john, you are my favorite person in the whole world today.

  145. 145
    metricpenny says:

    John, I’m going to have to start charging you rent for living inside my head!

    This post says exactly what I wanted to say to Mr. Sullivan after reading his post. I was just about suckered until I got to the line – “I still cannot in good conscience support these abortions;…”

    I was going to email him. However, you’ve written what I would have, except much more eloquently.

    I know he and his assistants read your blog and the comments. So. Sully. WHAT JOHN SAID!!!

  146. 146
    cybergal619 says:

    Excellent post, John! Thank you.

    I’m just confused as to why B-J and KO and others I suspect felt it necessary to quote Sully on this issue.

    But, I like Cenk Uygur’s take on this: The guy who killed Dr. Tiller is a domestic terrorist, hence we need to waterboard him just like all the other terrorists. Hmm, don’t seem to be hearing faux news pushing that “truth” down our throats…..

  147. 147
    Scott says:

    I had the same reaction to Sullivan’s comments.
    His last sentence ends; “….even while we may disagree in the abstract.” There is nothing abstract about this at all for the parents involved and the medical staff. This real life trauma that Sullivan and the rest of the pontificators will never feel.
    And yet, they willingly inflict it even unto the child.
    MYOB!

  148. 148
    Fern says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Because the media aren’t asking them?

    Because people are afraid of painting a target on their backs?

  149. 149
    Cain says:

    @Indylib:

    And Sully’s hypocrisy on the religious front is irritating. For all the screaming about the fundementalists, both Islamic and Christian he does, he believes that his Catholicism has the right to inform him about abortion, but not homosexuality. He must believe abortion is wrong because he is a Catholic, but he doesn’t have any problem breaking with the church on homosexuality and gay marriage. Could that possibly be because he’s gay, but will never be pregnant?

    I think for Sully, gay marriage doesn’t harm anybody as it’s really an act of love in his mind. Abortion to his mind is an act of killing a life and that does harm someone else. So he doesn’t see it in those terms. So even though he is shaken by the accounts he’s heard he has trouble getting over the fact that someone made a decision to terminate a life rather than a higher celestial power. I’m willing to bet he feels the same for right to die as well. You’re not supposed to take your life or another life that God has given you or has given someone else.

    But really it’s no different than the various acts of mercy we perform. And after all God in the old testament certainly took life away and even managed to tell his followers to kill some babies. The bible is very inconsistent on this point. It’s immoral to abort, but it’s fine if a higher power tells you to because it is the higher power and you need to obey.

    cain

  150. 150
    Arlie says:

    Thank you, John. Nobody has a late term abortion because they just up and changed their mind. The babies that are aborted at 8 months are babies that the parents wanted. They are aborted because the mother’s life is in danger or there are extremely serious birth defects.

  151. 151
    sgrAstar says:

    Wonderful and illuminating comments, John. You’ve said it all.

  152. 152
    Nick says:

    I recently took Sullivan off my reading list. His stance on Iraq that shows an extreme lack of insight into what drives his beliefs. His pontifications about abortion and smug leftists, given that lack of insight, are insufferable. That and the constant pushing of his books.

  153. 153
    les says:

    If you think that the pro-life movement is all about “bigots” wanting to control women and their sexuality, then no wonder the abortion debate is so heated.

    Uh, fuck off. Next time the christo-terrorists firebomb an in-vitro fertilization clinic, get back to me. They are bigots, pretty much by definition, and their only concern is imposing their god fantasies on anyone who doesn’t agree with them. For the most part they have no problems with socially sanctioned “murder” (war, death penalty) practiced by men; and they venerate killing for god. They suck.

  154. 154
    NickM says:

    a\@ Lupin

    Andrew Sullivan has always been a sanctimonious shit peddler who would have no job if it weren’t for the internet, and would be forced to work as…

    (Here my imagination fails.)

    I’ll supplement it – someone whose job it is to attend to the daily bodily needs of those for those profoundly damaged infants he would have the State force others to have.

  155. 155
    Louise says:

    I am very late to this post, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU. This kind of thinking is why BJ is the only blog I have on speed dial.

    The anti-abortion movement often makes no sense to me. If all abortions (and embryo destructions) are murder, then why abhor the killing of a mass-murderer? The movement should proclaim it “civil disobedience” and support the killer while he serves his prison term. And why get more overwrought about late-term abortions (where the mothers/murderers can claim significant medical reasons) than early abortions? Why not target doctors who provide the morning-after pill to rape victims?

    Of course, the answer to all of this is that most “right-to-lifers” have all sorts of moral confusion they won’t admit to. They probably secretly wish they could like The Gays, too.

  156. 156
    Mike in NC says:

    We’ve turned into a nation of busybodies and scolds, and people just need to back off.

    As several commenters have noted, this isn’t exactly a new phenomenon in American society. However, 24/7 cable TV shows, and especially the proliferation of so-called “reality television” freakfests, have turned a magnifying glass on our warped culture. They’ve pretty much run out of ideas on how to lure viewers with who can lose the most flab, or survive eating bugs in the jungle, or win votes for singing like Elvis. Now they’re reduced to celebrating who can have the most babies, preferably all at once (e.g., the sicko known as Octomom). A friend of mine has often observed, “America is the greatest country in the world, and its also really fucked up”.

  157. 157
    tagged45 says:

    I want to add my voice to the chorus commending you on one of your finest posts ever. Heck, if it had been three times longer, it would have rivaled one of Taibbi’s tour de force rants!

  158. 158
    Hugh Jass says:

    Wow — nearly 150 comments, and no one thinks that anyone who opposes abortion has any legitimate reason to do so. I have no doubt that bigotry, control issues, etc., play a role in the position of many people. But it’s very unfair to completely write-off the pro-life position. It’s perfectly sensible for people to care deeply about what is undeniably a human life, albeit one that is growing inside a mother’s body.

  159. 159
    freelancer says:

    Great post, John.

    A lot of hatred and unfounded accusations about Sullivan have popped up randomly a la Sully is gay, rich, and HIV positive, ergo he hates women. I don’t presume to speak for the man, but I know that if I were vilified and my background were used to argue against my political beliefs, I’d feel pretty dismissive.

    Sullivan’s lack of real compassion in that comment was stunning – after all those heart-felt stories, he still sees abortion as an abstract principle, not the life-and-death issue that it is for so many.

    I honestly believe this is the case of ‘you can take the boy out of Catholic school, but you can’t…’, simply because as a straight white male who was indoctrinated into the Catholic culture for 19 years before bucking it, I share the same ignorance of a pro-choice worldview. No matter how much I agree with the pro-choice position, there’s still a small twinge of pro-life guilt because it was engraved into my head by every adult I knew and trusted growing up that it is taking the life of a child. Ask any developmental biologist or child psychiatrist, what you’re taught as a trusting child is nigh impossible to excise.
    I thought his appearance on Countdown last night was admirable, simply because it was good to see a civil opposition on such a partisan show. While I now think a patient’s (Womens’) personal freedom is the fundamental underlying issue, I can understand the ‘abstract’ he’s referring to without making an effort to dehumanize women who seek abortions.

  160. 160
    ksmiami says:

    John Cole Rocks… No woman “wants” an abortion, or goes to that clinic with a gleam in her eye. It is an agonizing decision no matter what the trimester and a late term abortion due to, most likely immeasurable and untreatable diseases, or likely stillborn is probably the most difficult to bear. This issue needs to go away like now and these authoritarian anti-lifers/forced-birthers lost their right to be part of the debate when they brought the crazy and the DR. murderers. Frankly, the doctors at the front lines of abortion actually save lives.

  161. 161
    El Cid says:

    I still think it’s weird that people think the government should have the authority to deny a woman medical control of her own body with regard to an embryo growing inside her that is not legally a human.

  162. 162
    eemom says:

    Anyone who smugly presumes to judge another human being in a dilemma that he himself will never face forfeits his claim to my respect on any subject whatosoever.

    As I said yesterday, Sullivan’s attitude on this is proof beyond reasonable doubt that he’s an asshole, and a clueless, insufferable, and sanctimonious one at that. No mitigating circumstances. Case closed.

  163. 163
    Irony Abounds says:

    The reasons for late term abortions are almost never spelled out in the reporting on the issue (yet another glaring example of the ineptitude of today’s journalism). The anti-choice crowd gets to sell the horror of the partial birth abortion and all you are left with is the impression that these women wake up one morning late in their pregnancy and think “gosh, I really don’t want this kid” and head off to Kansas. The real reason, as Sullivan has learned, is almost always a tragic circumstance beyond the control of the pregnant woman and her husband.

    At least Sullivan has presented that often unknown part of the equation on his blog. Compare that to the insufferable O’Reilly or those whackjobs at The Corner. Those guys are pure excrement.

  164. 164
    Bey says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    It’s perfectly sensible for people to care deeply about what is undeniably a human life, albeit one that is growing inside a mother’s body.

    No one is telling you that you can’t care. We are telling you that your beliefs don’t trump mine.

    You. Do. Not. Get. To. Decide. What. I. Do. With. My. Life. And. My. Body.

  165. 165
    Fulcanelli says:

    Truly awesome post and comments on this thread. It should be required reading for the whole damn internets. And it probably will be read far and wide.

    I have zero credibility on this topic, being in possession of external genitalia, however what I do have is the experience of losing my second child due to an infection my (first) wife contracted which took hold in her uterus that left her damn near dead on the living room sofa for almost a month. Finally after not being able to stand the pain any longer we were told to get to the hospital by her OB/GYN, and after all the requisite exams and tests we were told that the infection couldn’t be treated as aggressively as it needed to be without potentially endangering the roughly two and a half month old fetus and the results of the treatment on the unborn fetus couldn’t be reliably predicted.

    So we had a decision to make, and it came down to my wife’s health or the fetus. They gave her a drug via IV, Pitocin probably, and I sat with her by the side of her bed and they induced labor, and well you can guess the rest.

    Anyone who thinks that the decision to have abortion is some casual, frivolous decision made by amoral, worthless human beings and should be controlled by sociopathic religious fundamentalist whackjobs is mentally ill and should be treated as such. And I for one am so fucking tired of these socially retarded assholes getting a free pass to spew their stupidity.

  166. 166
    Original Lee says:

    I was discussing this with my grandmother last night, and she pointed out that a lot of the anti-choice arguments against late-term abortions are a strange mix of religion and eugenics (sort of like Prosperity Doctrine, but with genes). Her explanation of the anti-choice reasoning went something like this:

    1. God is in charge of who gets to have babies. Therefore, only the worthy receive the gift of an easy pregnancy and a beautiful, healthy baby.

    2. If you get pregnant and abort because you don’t want to have a baby at that point in time, you are rejecting God’s gift. Therefore, you are a slut and probably also a blasphemer, if not a heretic.

    3. If you get pregnant and abort because your health is in danger, then you are being selfish. You should be willing to suffer and die to receive God’s gift. Therefore, you are not worthy because you are weak (which is almost as bad as being poor).

    4. If you get pregnant and abort because the fetus has some horrible defect, you are either: a) trying to avoid the punishment you deserve for trying to have a baby when you obviously weren’t really worthy; or b) interfering with God’s plan for the baby, whose soul would have been beautified by all of the suffering the body went through before it died. You were also stunting your own spiritual growth from being the parent during all of this. Therefore you are going to hell.

    5. If you get pregnant and abort because the fetus has died in the womb, then you’re interfering with natural processes. Let go and let God, right?

    6. If you give birth to a baby who needs multiple surgeries or other expensive extended care before it dies anyway and you end up in horrendous debt that keeps you in abject poverty for the rest of your life, then that’s what you get for being uppity and thinking you were actually a real WASP Master of the Universe and all. You should have saved enough money to cover all of these expenses before you even got pregnant, you deadbeat.

    7. If anything at all happens during the pregnancy that means that you die or can never have another baby, then clearly you were not Meant to have children and probably should be kicked out of the gene pool anyway. Which is just God’s way of showing that you are not Saved.

    Relative to #6, some deeply religious neighbors discovered in the 7th month of her pregnancy with their third child that the fetus had anencephaly, possibly due to her having had the flu before she knew she was pregnant. They decided to carry the fetus to term, and after the baby was born, they tried to care for her at home, but soon discovered that this was too much for them. They found a place in a neighboring state that was partially funded by (I believe) the Catholic Church, that was specifically set up to care for babies with these kinds of defects, and left her there. They drove there every weekend to visit. She lived for 2 years before dying from a viral infection. Their total costs exceeded $1M, and nearly 20 years later, they are still paying off this debt. They are still strongly opposed to abortion except to save the life of the mother, and even then only if the baby would have died, too. What has changed, though, is that they now allow as how not everybody could have done what they did, so they are much more compassionate and charitable towards Planned Parenthood and those who use those services than they used to be.

  167. 167
    Tax Analyst says:

    Hugh Jass
    Wow—nearly 150 comments, and no one thinks that anyone who opposes abortion has any legitimate reason to do so. I have no doubt that bigotry, control issues, etc., play a role in the position of many people. But it’s very unfair to completely write-off the pro-life position. It’s perfectly sensible for people to care deeply about what is undeniably a human life, albeit one that is growing inside a mother’s body.

    Maybe its because we agree with John that what these people “believe” should not entitle them to force their “beliefs” upon someone else – particularly with respect to medical and ethical choices. It all really comes back around to “Could you possibly please try and find a way to mind your own fucking business?

    Is that really so much to ask?

    Is this really all that hard to wrap your brain around?

  168. 168
    Elie says:

    Hugh Jass —

    You havent been reading closely. Many people have argued on the difficulty of the situation and the choices involved. In my post, I specifically addressed the complexity and the humbleness that I feel about it — even as I support a woman’s right to choose.

    You are doing the debate no good by characterizing those of us who support choice as somehow unable to appreciate human life.

    John Cole:

    In my comments upstring, I needed to thank you for this wonderful post and the important points you make. Yes, it would be great if we could give this and many other issues the privacy it deserves. You know, of course, it aint gonna happen…

  169. 169
    Mike in NC says:

    Obama is being painted as a leftist freakshow. And people are starting to realize it – that the right-wingers don’t have solutions to real problems, and that they aren’t representative of the “average” American.

    They have a simple one-size-fits-all “solution” called authoritarianism.

  170. 170
    Anne says:

    Right fucking on. Great post, probably the best I’ve ever seen from you. I’ll be nominating this for some sort of award when the time comes!

  171. 171
    Louise says:

    Another thing learned from those posts from parents who agonized over their choice — Tiller and his staff were incredibly respectful of the child. I realize that an anti-choice person might think what happened after the abortion is irrelevant, but I was struck by their making sure parents who wanted to had a chance to hold their child, make specific funeral arrangements, etc. No one treated the children as ‘discarded,’ which is what one might think after listening to many ranting critics.

    As someone who works with children with disabilities, and who values them and their place in the world, I still struggle with this topic — but again, it’s *my* struggle and should have absolutely no bearing on anyone else’s decision.

  172. 172
    DragonScholar says:

    In Sullivan’s defense, I think his cluelessness about these issues is, well, regular cluelessness. It’s not the aggressive, cultivated ignorance we see to often. He’s wrong, but he’s wrong in a way I think could be discussed with him as a rational human being.

    Now to the meat quote:

    What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business. We’ve turned into a nation of busybodies and scolds, and people just need to back off.

    As is being noted, this is the gold quote – and let me add something.

    It is a hell of a lot easier to mind other people’s business than your own, and I think a lot of these busybodies are people who are taking the “moral easy way” in their lives by spending their times being moral FOR other people. In other words, they get to congradulate themselves for being so moral because they’re minding the morals of OTHERS – as opposed to their own. Morally, they’re a group of weaklings, wimps who, unable to face their own lives, manage those of others.

    Its moral cheap heat. They get to talk morality – but never practice it. It’s not surprising these scolds can get behind so many immoral acts – their “morals” are so outward focused they lack any introspection or consistency.

  173. 173
    Ash Can says:

    John, this post was a veritable tonic. The news of the past couple of days has had me feeling almost physically ill, and it does me a world of good to read some good, solid common sense (not to mention human decency) on this subject. Many thanks.

    @nate: By all means, go into detail on the subject of “pro-lifers” who are truly pro-life. Seriously; I’m not being sarcastic. It would be welcome news. Who’s in the forefront these days of providing accomodations and care to young women with unwanted pregnancies, who don’t like the idea of getting an abortion but feel they have no choice? How’s Mary Cunningham’s Nurturing Network coming along? Has anyone adopted Helen Ferre’s feministic pro-life angle and done a better job of grounding it in reality? Who’s doing the best job these days of badgering government into increasing services for women and children? Go ahead, don’t be bashful. You’ll find that constructively-oriented, honest-to-goodness pro-lifers will be well received in this forum.

  174. 174
    jrg says:

    Wow—nearly 150 comments, and no one thinks that anyone who opposes abortion has any legitimate reason to do so. I have no doubt that bigotry, control issues, etc., play a role in the position of many people.

    Yeah, you’ll have to excuse us pro-abortion baby killers for our lack of nuance in this regard.

    The right has had many, many chances to reach past the talking points. They instead choose to demonize opponents and ignore debate. So you’ll have to forgive those of us who don’t believe that the “pro life” movement holds their beliefs in good faith, Andrew Sullivan notwithstanding.

  175. 175

    @Hugh Jass:

    Without doubt, the most aptly named spooftroll I have ever seen.

  176. 176
    gex says:

    @Dave: No. There is one side that wants to tell women, minorities, and gays how to live their lives. I don’t want any of this bullshit false equivalence crap.

    I just pointed out that all the examples John mentioned were right wing positions. Presumably if the left were equally obnoxious about these issues, John would have included those examples as well. He certainly did not target left or right specifically.

    Just for reference, I am a gay minority woman. You’ll have to forgive me if I am angry about the right’s attitudes towards all those groups and speaking out about it. I’m not going to shut up just because it makes you uncomfortable.

  177. 177
    Original Lee says:

    @DragonScholar: Exactly right. Which is why Jesus talked about taking the beam out of your own eye first. That Jesus, he knew some stuff about people, didn’t he? But of course, because the anti-abortion crowd is so outward-directed, they wouldn’t recognize this as applying to them, anyway.

  178. 178
    John O says:

    So RIGHT on as to be irrefutable.

    I can’t wait to see some rebuttals.

    Thank you! I was going to send Andrew an e-mail tonight along the same lines, but you saved me a lot of work by doing it so much better.

  179. 179
    simonee says:

    Amen.

    Reading those gut-wrenching letters Andrew posted by his readers had no affect on his conscience. It’s pretty stunning. I love reading his blog and I think he’s a decent enough guy, but that quote of his reveals that he takes political positions based SOLELY pertaining to his personal benefit. He wants to legalize marijuana and have civil unions– because it’s supposedly none of government’s business to dictate how people should live their lives, but somehow his conscience allows him to regulate a woman’s uterus.

    And for everthing other issue besides weed and gay marriage– the social issues that don’t affect him in the slightest– he defers to Republicans so that he can continue to call himself a conservative.

  180. 180
    eemom says:

    “In Sullivan’s defense, I think his cluelessness about these issues is, well, regular cluelessness. It’s not the aggressive, cultivated ignorance we see to often. He’s wrong, but he’s wrong in a way I think could be discussed with him as a rational human being.”

    No, I’m afraid not. Not when he had the tragic and brutal realities these women endured shoved full in his clueless face yesterday and was still able to pass judgment on them with his simpering smirk.

  181. 181

    […] once in a while, I read a post I wish I had written. John  Cole’s piece on abortion is one of them.  He starts by quoting Andrew Sullivan who […]

  182. 182
    anonevent says:

    @Hugh Jass: If you don’t want to have an abortion, there is no one on this site, or any other pro-choice site, forcing you to. While there are probably many reasons you are uncomfortable with a woman having an abortion, the thing is, neither you nor I can know all of the reasons that each woman has for choosing whether or not to, and that is why it is her choice.

  183. 183
    KRK says:

    Thanks, John. Well done.

  184. 184
    randiego says:

    I saw him on Olberman, and I thought to myself “fuck you pal, who the fuck are you to judge, you pious fuck”

  185. 185

    @simonee:

    Hm, I think people are giving him way too much leeway.

    His reaction is all about his ego. And ego is a big piece of the puzzle in this “issue.”

  186. 186
    eyepaddle says:

    Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever posted a comment just to say “utterly fantastic take dude, I’m in awe” before.

    But I think I’ll do that now. John Cole FTW.

  187. 187
    ironranger says:

    I’ve only seen the question “if abortion was illegal, what should the punishment for the woman be?” asked a couple of times on pundit tv shows. It was clear that the antichoice guests didn’t want to answer that one.
    That question should be asked of every anti-choice on every program.

  188. 188

    I’ve used your line

    What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business. We’ve turned into a nation of busybodies and scolds, and people just need to back off.

    and I hope sufficiently in the spirit is was intended.

  189. 189
    Tsulagi says:

    Sorry about your luck, lady, but we have people’s consciences to think about here.

    Essentially what the Bush DOJ told one sailor’s wife. Her fetus had a defect, anencephaly, that results in death 100% of the time. Born without most or all of their brain, the baby usually dies soon after birth.

    The medical coverage available to Congress covers a late term abortion in that instance. But not under Tricare which covers military personnel. In fact, Congress in its wisdom of legislating morality for thee but apparently not for me at least in this situation, inserted a regulation into Tricare specifically denying coverage to mothers with anencephalic fetuses. Jackasses.

    What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business. We’ve turned into a nation of busybodies and scolds, and people just need to back off.

    Exactly. Guess it would be a little oxymoronic, but I’d support a Constitutional amendment or a new organized religion dedicated to just that.

    And I’m here to tell you, government by “progressives” is no ticket to a fucking utopia. At least not city government in the tiny incorporated area where we live. What used to be a very friendly area has been transformed in the past two or three years. Think self-absorbed and self-righteously indulgent condo HOA board on steroids. Pissants with fining capability and police power. Next up will likely be for residents to prove with independent verification that we haven’t removed the tags from our pillows and mattresses.

  190. 190

    Sully can write, but that doesn’t mean he has more than the reasoning powers a box of rocks has. If something screws with Sully’s life he’s agin it and otherwise it’s subject to his ideology/religionism despite reason and logic. I fail to understand why anyone is shy about stomping mudholes in his crap when he indulges it. He sure the hell isn’t shy about doing it.

  191. 191
    gex says:

    @Michael: So poor women should not have the same options as rich women, just so O Reilly can feel better about it?

  192. 192
    Steve V says:

    The notion of a constitutionally protected right of privacy makes more sense, intuitively, after reading your post John.

    BTW, those stories Sullivan posted were probably the best stuff he’s ever posted. I was particularly moved by the one where the priest supported the couple’s decision after visiting the children’s hospital with all the babies that had had defects and surgeries. Sullivan can really annoy me sometimes, but he does run a damn good blog. Too bad he doesn’t seem to have internalized the the lessons and stories of people who’ve been through such agonizing situations.

  193. 193
    Little Dreamer says:

    @Jim:

    I caught about three minutes of the Chris Matthews show yesterday, as he interviewed Will Saletan on this question. Tweety kept repeating “Why don’t they just have the baby?”. Saletan brought up hard cases like this, but then assured us that most late-term abortions were teenage girls who were in denial in their first trimester or afraid to talk to their parents. These, Saletan assured us, complete with John McCain asshole-finger quotes, were those “emotional issues” silly people always babble about.

    Yeah, I caught that, it pissed me off too. I understand Kansas has guidelines about which types of health cases qualify for late term abortions, I don’t think emotional teenager was on that list. I’d like to see Saletan’s sources for that bullshit.

  194. 194
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @DragonScholar: In other words, they get to congradulate themselves for being so moral because they’re minding the morals of OTHERS – as opposed to their own. Morally, they’re a group of weaklings, wimps who, unable to face their own lives, manage those of others.

    I don’t know whether you intended to or not, but what you described here is a classic playground bully. Illuminating that.

  195. 195
    sglover says:

    In his long career of failure and opportunism, Sullivan made one brilliant decision right at the beginning: He knew that some Yank suckers would fall for his Tory Gay Catholic Brit mashup schtick. It got him into the Beltway media circus, and once you’ve latched onto that big intestinal tract you’re pretty much set for life.

    Look at Sullivan’s ramblings on their own, and you’ll find a very mediocre intellect. He’s tedious and mundane as hell. I’m surprised that anybody in the blog world still follows him.

  196. 196
    Jason says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    Wow—nearly 150 comments, and no one thinks that anyone who opposes abortion has any legitimate reason to do so.

    That’s the general basis for disagreement, yes. Legitimacy tends to be persuasive.

    It’s perfectly sensible for people to care deeply about what is undeniably a human life, albeit one that is growing inside a mother’s body.

    A life != alive. Symmetric, too!

  197. 197
    DennisR says:

    Sullivan identifies himself as a practicing Catholic. I’ll bet all the parishoners at his church absolutely adore him.

  198. 198
    nepat says:

    @Original Lee/#167 –

    Your comment might even be better than John’s post. Genius.

    ps – where do they make such enlightened grandmas?

  199. 199
    oh really says:

    I’m really sick of the crap, and I don’t mean to harsh completely on Andrew, because I sense he does struggle with these matters.

    Sullivan deserves all the harshness you can heap on him. Despite his professed “struggles,” he’s part of the problem on this issue. He is simply ignoring reality — that unpleasant decisions have to be made and unpleasant actions need to be taken — so he can continue to pretend that his morality is superior to that of people who face the horror of having a child who will suffer and die, while needlessly draining the health care system of precious resources that could be better allocated elsewhere, all with the added feature of threatening the health and life of the mother.

    I believe Sullivan’s “struggles” are phony struggles, designed to portray him as a serious adult. Sorry, a serious adult accepts the need to let doctors and parents make these decisions without outside interference. And a serious adult accepts that sometimes the most difficult and unpleasant decisions are also the right decisions.

  200. 200
  201. 201
    TenguPhule says:

    Hugh Jass

    I see what you did there DougJ.

  202. 202
    Jason says:

    @TenguPhule: Was that really a bullshit post? I feel kind of stupid now.

  203. 203
    Nick says:

    To reiterate:

    #

    randiego

    I saw him on Olberman, and I thought to myself “fuck you pal, who the fuck are you to judge, you pious fuck”
    ————————–

    AND

    DanSmoot’sGhost

    His reaction is all about his ego. And ego is a big piece of the puzzle in this “issue.”
    —————————–

    To which I’ll add: Being a judgmental pious fuck is a symptom of being egotistical.

    Now all of us have some ego (except for the enlightened), but how about some self-analysis, Sully?

  204. 204
    John Cole says:

    You know, if all some of you have to offer is just crapping all over Sullivan, I have to wonder what you think you are accomplishing. It isn’t changing my opinion of his blog, which I think is a great read.

    And it certainly isn’t changing Sullivan’s opinion to come in here, read the comments, and see nothing but people being assholes to him. I’m honestly not sure what you think you are doing other than making yourself look bad.

  205. 205
    Nancy Darling says:

    Thank you again, John

  206. 206
    BDeevDad says:

    I’m late to this but thanks John. As the parent of a soon to be three year old who has undergone 5 surgeries, 3 hospital stays, sees 14 specialists and has a tracheostomy, a g-tube, hearing aides and a walker, we would be in dire financial and mental distress without some state aid and I have good medical insurance through work. Just the respite nursing my wife gets would put us in bankruptcy if not for the state and that keeps her sane.

  207. 207
    Hugh Jass says:

    Jason — Your comment that a “human life” must be “alive” kind of begs the question, don’t you think? You might think that “life” begins when the umbilical cord is cut. Someone else might reasonably think that it begins at conception. Someone else might think that it begins with brain-wave activity, etc. The answer is “above my pay grade,” as our President put it, but your answer isn’t necessarily the “right” one.

    My point before was that the smug certainty with which many commenters dismiss the “assholes” and “bigots” who “just want to control women’s bodies” isn’t very different from the right-to-lifers who won’t address the very complex emotional and biological issues involved. And it’s not enough to declare that a pro-lifer’s “concern” and “belief” can’t “trump” a woman’s right to decide what to do with her body, because again that ignores the fact that we’re not talking just about the woman’s body. There’s another being involved, growing in that body. No matter how you might want to avoid the issue, that is a serious and complicated matter that isn’t subject to the certainty that everyone seems to share on this topic.

  208. 208

    My brother Ricky, who was born and died before I came along, was a spina bifida baby. When he was born my parents were told not to take him home because he would die in a few days. They took him home and he lived for about a year. A year of pain and sadness.

    For most of my life (I’m approaching sixty now) my parents didn’t talk much about Ricky, except to say how happy they were when I was born healthy. Last fall my mother opened up and told me about it, about how she was instructed to call the funeral home and not the doctors when he dies, how she watched him slipping away. “He was the smartest little baby,” my mother said, with all the sadness of the world.

    I won’t even venture to say whether my mother would have gotten an abortion if it had been legal back then and she had known Ricky’s condition. It was a different time. But there are babies so badly deformed that there is no way they will do anything other than suffer and die if they manage to live until birth. And their families will suffer and be scarred and maybe even be bankrupted on that slow march towards that baby’s death.

    And the greatest tragedies are the babies who are born into this world unwanted and unloved. If you read a good biography of Adolf Hitler you will discover that he was unwanted and unloved, beaten about by his father. There was no Randall Terry around to offer a home for the young Adolf. Richard Allen Davis, the killer of Polly Klaas who is now on California’s Death Row, was an abused child. His alcoholic mother used to rub out her cigarettes on his hands. Unloved babies provide a reservoir of future monsters.

    Now some will say that those scars, the scars we get from watching babies die, or the scars given to the unwanted newborns, are what give us the richness of our humanity. To which I say that those people should go homeless or skip needed surgery or paralyze themselves so that they may experience the richness of humanity.

  209. 209
    simonee says:

    @John Cole:

    I don’t think we’re disputing the greatness of his blog– I’ve read the guy since I was 16 and he has undoubtedly shaped my personal political views. But at times he is breathtakingly stubborn for an individual that advocates for understanding nuance in complex matters.

  210. 210
    Nancy Darling says:

    Hugh Jass, You are exactly right that this is a serious and complicated matter. Precisely, because scientists and theologians disagree on the issues among themselves is precisely why we should all mind our own business.

  211. 211
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @John Cole

    It isn’t changing my opinion of his blog, which I think is a great read.

    May be, but your blog is better, it is more honest and less self-righteous and I am saying this as a regular reader of the Daily Dish, which I used to follow until the beginning of this year, at least several times every day. I also found your blog through a link from Sullivan’s site, late last year during the election season. I used to enjoy reading Sullivan but off late, I find his sanctimoniousness off-putting, and his endless posts of what true conservatism is, tiresome. I do appreciate the posts he does about torture but ultimately he doesn’t have what you have, i.e. the mighty Tunch!

    BTW, when is the next live update from the Tunch cam scheduled?

  212. 212
    Bey says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    There’s another being involved, growing in that body.

    Unless you fathered that being, your take on the situation is irrelevant.

    The physical risk is mine. The financial obligation is mine. The time invested is mine. The emotional involvement is mine.

    At no point should you have any influence on my decision. It is, rightly I believe, left to me to determine if those risks and committments are ones I’m willing to take on.

  213. 213
    HyperIon says:

    The first time I ever really thought about abortion was when I saw an episode of “The Defenders”, too long ago for most readers here. I was maybe 13. The guy being defended was a doc who provided abortions on the sly; this is way before Roe v Wade.

    The twist at the end was the testimony of a woman who had gone to him and had, due to his questioning/counseling, decided NOT to have the procedure. It was a very effective TV courtroom drama with the woman on the stand and prosecuting attorney assuming she had had the abortion, so he walked right into the “punchline”.

    Oh, and as I have stated several times before, IMO Sullivan is a smooth talking egotist.

  214. 214
    Hugh Jass says:

    Bey — Your explanation can be used to justify infanticide. Those reasons don’t prove what you want them to prove. The issue is how to treat the growing life in the body, and it’s not an answer simply to argue that the only person who has a say in that is the would-be mother and/or father.

    By the way, why do many commenters here think it’s a “spoof” or “troll” every time someone argues a different viewpoint?

  215. 215
    DarcyPennell says:

    @jrosen: BTW…what does the Bible say, if anything, about abortion?

    I don’t recall anything in the Bible about abortion specifically. The Old Testament says that the penalty for murder is death. If someone attacks a pregnant woman and causes her to miscarry, the attacker just has to pay a fine. (Exodus 21:22-23) Which makes it sound like killing a fetus is not murder according to the Bible.

  216. 216
    valdivia says:

    @Original Lee:

    and thanks for this. perfect summary of Giving Your life Over to the Will.

  217. 217
    Jay C says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    Wow—nearly 150 comments, and no one thinks that anyone who opposes abortion has any legitimate reason to do so. I have no doubt that bigotry, control issues, etc., play a role in the position of many people. But it’s very unfair to completely write-off the pro-life position.

    OK, Hugh: here’s a contrary position: take it as a given that not all pro-choice advocates (myself, frex) “write off the pro-life position” – or completely dismiss people’s real moral qualms or concerns about terminating pregnancies. Unfortunately, the organized “pro-life” movement in this country – at least to judge by their public reaction to Dr. Tiller’s murder – doesn’t appear in any way minded (not lately, anyway) to deal in anything but self-righteous moral absolutism. It is their unalterable core dogma that “abortion” (overbroadly defined to include many methods of contraception) – no matter what the circumstances – is always Bad, Wrong and Evil Murder – and thus MUST be utterly and completely banned – their only main point of debate is whether or not, and what severity of legal sanctions ought to be applied.

    Yes, some of us on the “other side” CAN see beyond simplistic black-and-white commonplaces: too bad there’s so little “other side” on the “other side” .

  218. 218
    Amanda says:

    I’m at work so don’t have time to read the whole comment thread. But let me just say: PREACH.

    When did it become fashionable or acceptable to offer your own moral opinion on someone else’s medical procedure choices? I know I know — different standards for the girls, blah blah blah.

    I await with baited breath Andrew’s invitation for all of us to weigh in on his medical care choices.

    And can I just say for a guy whose sexual orientation is no doubt judged by all kinds of folks — unjustly — the lack of self awareness by Sully that BOTH kinds of judgement are unacceptable…never ceases to amaze me.

  219. 219
    Ash Can says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    it’s not an answer simply to argue that the only person who has a say in that is the would-be mother and/or father.

    Like hell it’s not. Someone else’s body is not your property, it’s not your church’s property, and it’s not the government’s property. What the hell do you think a woman’s body is, a petri dish? A dutch oven?

    Who do you think has a say?

  220. 220
    neil says:

    What I simply can’t understand here is how Sullivan can read these stories supplied by his readers of real-life situations that he claims left him “shaken” – and then in the next literary breath say essentially he hasn’t been shaken whatsoever – so mighty a fortress is his sky-god and the delerious belief-system he embraces like a security blanket, sucking his thumb all the while.

    Andrew’s basic folly is that he lacks the imagination to be empathetic. If it can’t happen to him, it’s not a problem, and it’s just an intellectual exercise tackled by a pseudo-intellectual cipher.

    And because of this apparent lack of imagination to empathize, the rest of us have to put up with him prattling on endlessly about his titanic, abstract moral struggle, rather than be concerned with a woman’s actual titanic struggle with a relentlessly non-abstract, cruel, heart-breaking medical decision.

    I agree whole-heartedly with this post, as well as the commenters who point out, quite correctly, that this is all about controlling women’s sexuality. That’s all. That’s what the entire “pro-life / Operation Rescue” ethos is all about. These sociopathic charlatans don’t give a shit about babies. They care about punishing the harlots – because, to the Christianist zealots, any woman who has an abortion must be, by definition, a sin-filled wanton, some “darling of the fleet” Jezebel – and not a human being with a REAL struggle – the necessity of having to grapple with a difficult, painful decision to terminate a pregnancy.

    Andrew Sullivan’s moral struggle is his own. It’s irrelevant, immaterial, and pales in comparison to these incredibly life-shattering decisions that people are forced to make. He can’t “support” their decision? Oh, Andrew, you condescending prick…..fuck the hell off.

  221. 221
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    By the way, why do many commenters here think it’s a “spoof” or “troll” every time someone argues a different viewpoint?

    Have you really never said your name out loud?

    ETA: If you don’t want people thinking you’re a joke, don’t pick a joke name.

  222. 222
    binzinerator says:

    That was superb, John. And you also hit on one of the things that just makes me livid with these fake ‘pro-life’ assholes:

    Is anyone in the pro-life community funding this for people?

    We both know the answer.

    Hell, the pro-life community doesn’t even want birth control available.

    If they were as gung-ho for making birth control available I’d have to give these people the benefit of the doubt regarding the accusations they are not really concerned about preventing abortion and that what they really want to do is control women.

    But no. The so-called ‘pro-life’ community is hostile to any form of birth control.

    And by the way ‘pro-lifers’, abstinence isn’t birth control no matter how often or vehemently you insist. It’s sexuality control. It prevents pregnancies by denying one’s own sexuality, not by giving control over one’s own fertility.

    Control. Again and again this keeps coming up.

    No, the accusations are dead on. Birth control is fertility control not sex control. And that is why these people are so against it — especially those forms for women — even though fertility control can prevent many instances of abortions.

    It’s not enough these people can go live their own lives as they wish. They insist and demand with threats and violence that YOU live your life as THEY wish.

  223. 223
    Bey says:

    Hugh – stripping my comments from their context could be used to justify all sorts of things, not just infanticide.

    As a reminder, the context at hand is the decision to abort a fetus, not kill a baby.

    And the answer is: the decision is mine, not yours. You don’t get to dictate to me what my life will be, no matter how much you may want to.

  224. 224
    TenguPhule says:

    The issue is how to treat the growing life in the body

    Radiation.

    I hear it does wonders for cancers.

  225. 225
    Betsy says:

    I’m out of town and haven’t gotten to look at this blog in several days, but I saw this and just had to chime in – fantastic post. Thank you.

    By the way, why do many commenters here think it’s a “spoof” or “troll” every time someone argues a different viewpoint?

    Hmm, i don’t know…maybe because your handle is the mature and thoughtful “Hugh Jass”?

  226. 226
    Jason says:

    @Hugh Jass: Apologies – the statement actually means “a life does not equal alive.” Sorry about being unclear. And glib – but I don’t think there’s an appeal to fairness to be made here, and I think the question-begging occurs in the appeal: it’s as if I’m supposed to take as a first principle that a feeling about an issue occurs at a level that is both rational and phenomenal at the same time, and therefore limits judgment. Without getting into a super-Randian “reason is the reason for the season” line of thinking, I’m not with you on that. Serious and complicated though the cultural discussion may be, I do not value the perspective that I disagree with. I don’t respect it, and I don’t care if that’s fair. But I’m not the center of anybody’s universe.

    And it’s not enough to declare that a pro-lifer’s “concern” and “belief” can’t “trump” a woman’s right to decide what to do with her body, because again that ignores the fact that we’re not talking just about the woman’s body.

    Apparently for some people it is. So what do you do with that, besides disagree? Or do you have some other criteria you’re applying to that statement that doesn’t boil down to its illegitimacy as an argument or position?

  227. 227
    asiangrrlMN says:

    Thank you, John. You were much nicer to Sully than I was in my posting that included a “fuck you” to him, and yet, you described perfectly what I thought about that little comment of his. I actually thought he was decent on Olbermann, though for the life of me, I don’t know why Keith couldn’t find someone a bit more qualified to talk about it, but there was no reason for Sully to slide in that line about being morally-opposed to the kind of abortions Dr. Tiller performed. That was all about him.

    Put me in the camp of not reading Sully any more. I’ve tried, but his unwillingness to actually go beyond a certain point is a deal-killer for me.

    In addition, I agree with those who are fed up with men getting to frame the debate about abortion.

    @Michael D.: The difference is, Michael, Sully would want to overturn that part of Roe v. Wade. In addition, the situations are not parallel. Being able to marry or not will not kill you (or me or anyone else). It’s something you want to do (or not) and something that you should be allowed to do.

    However, an abortion is not a joyous occasion, though it’s not necessarily a tragedy, either. Especially in late-term abortions, no woman is entering into it lightly.

    When I was in high school, I got a lot of flack for saying that ultimately, no, what the man want doesn’t count because he is not the one who has to take any responsibility for the ensuing child.

    I find it interesting that anti-choice activists talk about the life of the unborn, but don’t put the same energy in helping children who are already born. Or, how about the kids who are awaiting adoption? They should matter, too.

    @Bey:

    You. Do. Not. Get. To. Decide. What. I. Do. With. My. Life. And. My. Body.

    This. This is at the heart of the issue.

    One last thing. I find it baffling that the very same people who purport to be acting on the side of the unborn then turn around and say that if a woman plays, she should be forced to have the baby–as if it’s a punishment. WTF? That’s a nice world-view right there.

    OK. I lied. Yes. This is about controlling women’s sexuality and women’s body and the fact that women are the life-givers.

  228. 228
    kay says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    That was never true, Hugh. You’re arguing the pro-life strawman, that the interests of the fetus are ignored, and the interests of the mother are assigned dominance.

    Go read Roe. It’s a 3 tiered approach to competing interests. It’s the best anyone could come up with, because pregnancy is unique. There are three competing interests, the state, the mother, and the baby. That’s addressed in Roe. It’s the meat of the decision. Without that, this would be easy.

    Roe slides. It assigns a lesser state interest to the the first three months, and then lists the reasons. The next trimester is different, as is the trimester after that. The state interest increases with viability.

    It is simply inaccurate to claim otherwise.

  229. 229

    @stormhit

    It’s actually not difficult to see how one could support the Catholic Church’s philosophical thought on abortion while finding the homosexual argument lacking. This is because they aren’t just random rules pulled out of thin air. I know no one wants to read two thousand years of philosophical texts, but there’s more there than just rules being handed down willy nilly. Not that that’s going to change anyone’s mind on whether they’re right or not, and it shouldn’t. But the accepted ignorance of many who like to act like there’s no intellectual weight behind the formulations of the Catholic Church baffles me.

    So a whole bunch of guys shouting at each other in an echo chamber for 2,000 years all of a sudden counts as “intellectual weight”? Sorry, this only counts as “intellectual weight” if you buy into the idea that some big scary sky god is out there and is going to punish us for not following his dictates. If you don’t accept that premise then the formulations of the Catholic Church have about as much “intellectual weight” as a wet fart.

  230. 230
    Hob says:

    Some people feel the need to respond to Andrew Sullivan as a serious person. Some feel the same way about Megan McArdle. Others are bischmuckual, and do both. Whether this is a choice or genetically determined, I respect the rights of bloggers to follow such desires but I still find the practices distasteful.

    Still a great post, John.

  231. 231

    Great post, John. You’ve summed it up as well as one can.

  232. 232
    Steve V says:

    @BDeevDad:

    I wish you the best. I barely have my little toe in the world of special needs parenting, state funding and all that compared to you.

  233. 233
    Little Dreamer says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    Wow—nearly 150 comments, and no one thinks that anyone who opposes abortion has any legitimate reason to do so. I have no doubt that bigotry, control issues, etc., play a role in the position of many people. But it’s very unfair to completely write-off the pro-life position. It’s perfectly sensible for people to care deeply about what is undeniably a human life, albeit one that is growing inside a mother’s body.

    You care about that baby so much that it would just be horrible if that baby might not get to suffer living a life where it only has half a brain.

    Idiot!

  234. 234
    Professor Fate says:

    What has always struck me is how overwhelmingly Male the public face of the anti-abortion group is. I keep seeing these well fed Men in expensive suits go on and on and I just wonder who the hell made them experts on pregancy?

    Also – I know two couples one a neighboor’s daughter and the other a long time family friend who were both told that their child would not survive long once it was born. In both cases they decided to carry to term and in both cases the child died within hours. I don’t know if they considered a late term abortion or not – and I don’t care it is none of my business I utterly refuse to judge anybody facing that horrible choice no matter what they decide. These are some of the awful moments in life that have no good answer. The last thing these people need is smug advice from people who don’t know what the hell is going on.

  235. 235
    Hugh Jass says:

    Bey — I actually don’t want to dictate your decision. I have my viewpoint (life begins at conception), but I’m not particularly emotional about decisions by other people to have abortions.

    And the question isn’t whether I (or the government) gets to dictate your life, but rather whether you get to dictate what happens to another life — that of the fetus/baby/whatever you want to call it.

    Nothing is going to be resolved so long as the pro-life people pretend that abortions sometimes can be the right thing, just as nothing will be resolved so long as pro-choice people pretend that the only issue is a woman’s right to decide what happens to “her body.” It’s not just “her body” that’s at-issue.

  236. 236
    neil says:

    @hob

    “bischmuckual”

    Hilarious.

  237. 237
    TenguPhule says:

    It’s not just “her body” that’s at-issue.

    Except that it is. It’s her body, her decision.

    Nobody else gets to force her.

  238. 238
    sponson says:

    Great post, kudos from a Steve Gilliard-style leftie blogger, and patriotic American.

  239. 239
    schrodinger's cat says:

    It’s not just “her body” that’s at-issue.

    It is, because the fetus cannot survive without her body.

  240. 240

    Mr. Cole sir, I have only two words to add:
    FUCK YEAH!

    yours truly,
    brendan skwire

  241. 241
    t4toby says:

    Hear mother-effin’ hear.

  242. 242
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Hugh Jass: It is. If I get pregnant, the fetus depends on me and me alone. Not you. Not the father. Not my cats. Me–MY body. Therefore, in the end, it is my decision. How I make it, quite frankly, is none of you business. You can mourn for the fetus if that will make you feel better, but you damn well better not try to stop me from making the CHOICE on my own.

    It really is about a woman’s autonomy in the end, else we are nothing but brood mares. If that is the case, then I would demand that every woman be allowed to get her tubes at any age after menstruation (which most doctors won’t allow).

    Little Dreamer, they know it’s not going to happen–thus, the intimidation techniques. Gee, I guess the law is only good if you agree with it.

  243. 243
    Little Dreamer says:

    Nothing is going to be resolved so long as the pro-life people pretend that abortions sometimes can be the right thing, just as nothing will be resolved so long as pro-choice people pretend that the only issue is a woman’s right to decide what happens to “her body.” It’s not just “her body” that’s at-issue.

    Actually, it IS resolved, abortion is legal, if you don’t like it, then go lobby people to change it.

  244. 244
    binzinerator says:

    What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business. We’ve turned into a nation of busybodies and scolds, and people just need to back off.

    As others have noted, this is a gem. But you don’t know much about evangelical religions, do you?

    Those people who come to your door and tell you you haven’t been ‘saved’ and you need to make their Lord Jesus Christ your personal savior — remember those people? It doesn’t get more busybody than going to someone’s home and telling them to their face their deepest beliefs are wrong and they will be punished because of it. And what do you think those young Mormon kids canvassing neighborhoods are up to? Sticking their nose in other people’s deeply personal business is required if they ever have a hope to get into heaven. Every have the misfortune to have to spend time among a group of Baptists? They just can’t help letting you know how you just don’t see things right.

    These religions insist their followers stick their noses in other people’s very personal business.

    What this country needs is fewer fundies because these people simply refuse to let other people be.

    That is the real problem. It has always been the problem, and it was the same problem that led to the founding of this country.

  245. 245
    Little Dreamer says:

    It really is about a woman’s autonomy in the end, else we are nothing but brood mares. If that is the case, then I would demand that I be allowed to tie my tubes at twenty-two (which no doctor would have allowed) so I never get pregnant because I do not want a child. Never had, and never will.

    Again, a man wants to control a woman, no surprise.

  246. 246
    Indylib says:

    @Little Dreamer:

    I don’t think emotional teenager was on that list.

    If you put together all the info out there this would mean that the “emotional” teenage girls somehow got to Witchita, Kansas, from FSM knows where with five grand in their pockets without their parents knowledge. Riiiight!

  247. 247
    Original Lee says:

    @nepat: Thanks. I think she’s pretty special myself, and since’s she’s 94, I am enjoying her specialness as much as I can. I think her compassion and insight on this issue stem from the fact that she was born 5 months after her parents married, in a very rural area, and that her mother was 16 at the time. Her father was 30 and had just gotten discharged from the Navy.

  248. 248
    oh really says:

    I’m honestly not sure what you think you are doing other than making yourself look bad.

    Wow. That’s an absolutely inexplicable comment. What do people think they’re doing (myself included)?

    How about honestly expressing an opinion. Something that apparently is only the right of bloggers. I wasn’t aware that the only valid comments were those that echoed the opinion of the blogger.

    In the real world (i.e., outside Balloon Juice) not everyone thinks as highly of Andrew Sullivan as you do. And even people who may generally like (respect, admire, whatever) Sullivan may not think much of opinion on this (or other issues). Why is that a surprise? And why would the simple expression of that opinion be justification to claim that people are making themselves look bad?

  249. 249
    Ruckus says:

    One of the best posts ever. Anywhere
    Mom used to say three things (over and over – I’m slow like that)
    1. Sit up straight
    2. Eat your veg
    3. Mind your own business
    Strange how she was right on all three

  250. 250
    TenguPhule says:

    if you don’t like it, then go lobby people to change it. live in South American countries that ban it.

    Fixed.

    Because we don’t want assholes changing America into a shithole just because they can.

  251. 251
    Little Dreamer says:

    @TenguPhule:

    It doesn’t matter, this fat ass isn’t going to change it, not with his 11% pro-life movement.

  252. 252
    Little Dreamer says:

    @Indylib:

    That too!

    ;)

  253. 253
    Denise says:

    Great post. As long as women are bearing the pregnancy, it is the woman’s choice whether to have the child or not. And a lot of these “pro life” people don’t want women to have access to reliable birth control…or reliable sex education for that matter.

    I would not choose to have an abortion. But that doesn’t give me the right to make the choice for anyone else–especially someone facing horrible birth defects.

    So, if you don’t like abortion–don’t have one. And start making reliable sex education (not this abstinence-only BS) and reliable birth control available so abortions aren’t necessary!!! That’s how you can really prove how “pro life” you are.

  254. 254
    Little Dreamer says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    Rachel was right, since they can’t change it, they are going to limit the ability to use this legal right.

    I am glad that Tiller’s assistant is going to keep the clinic open, they accomplished nothing except to take the life of a human being and remove a father, grandfather and husband from his family.

  255. 255
    MNPundit says:

    @asiangrrlMN: It’s you decision but it’s also the father’s kid too, so his opinions should carry more weight with the mother of their child than say, mine would. Also, why don’t doctors allow tubes tied after menopause?

    Oh yeah! Time to re-post my pro-choice anti-anti-abortion screed!

    I don’t think “life” begins at the moment of conception. The cells were already alive but they are so far from a complexity of a human being it’s un-relatable. And I do not think potential for life is anything close to life either.

    But frankly I don’t care. Up to a certain development of the fetus I don’t care if it IS a living person. I think the mother should maintain domination over it because I believe her life is more valuable than a child who would suck up resources and not contribute for a specific amount of time. This is especially appropriate if the mothers are poor/single mothers because then their life gets even harder and they AND their kids are at a greater likelihood of being stuck in poverty.

    And if one of these little almost-guys cures cancers? Tough. That person could also have been an illegal immigrant girl we deported to Mexico and was killed by drug runners, or a Pakistani guy we blew up with one of our missile drones, or a kid from Zimbabwe we forced to go home because we don’t let people with HIV in this country.

    Life is too fucking random to be a prisoner of might-have-beens.

    So yeah, value judgment.

    Pregnant mom = more important than unborn child.

  256. 256
    Persia says:

    @Indylib: I also think it’s a great way to dismiss the health of, say, a pregnant fourteen-year-old girl who has been denying her pregnancy from Day One, has had no prenatal care, and may well have been drinking heavily for the past seven months or so. For some reason, we’d rather call a teenage girl living in denial of her pregnancy a stupid slut rather than mentally ill.

    (And apparently these girls would make great parents if only we didn’t ‘force’ them to abort, or something. Okay.)

  257. 257
    kay says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    Roe was a fairly practical decision. The ramifications of granting personhood at conception are nightmarish to contemplate. The state would have a duty to intervene, because an 8 week old fetus would have the same protections as an 8 day old baby.
    The state regularly intervenes on behalf of children, and they intervene (necessarily) between parents and their children, again, on behalf of the child.
    If we redefine “children” to mean “at conception” we’re essentially granting the state an equal interest from conception to the age of majority. They’ll intervene. It won’t make any sense not to.
    We remove children from their parent’s care at hours old, using abuse, neglect or dependency as the state interest. It’ll take about 5 minutes for the first neglect case to be brought on behalf of a 12 week fetus.
    What you are talking about is profound. It has ramifications. I can’t figure out any other way to balance these divergent interests. The Roe court couldn’t either.

  258. 258
    MinuteMan says:

    schrodinger’s cat

    I wonder what the opinions of these conscience-striken men would be if they were the ones who got pregnant. It is so easy to moralize about the choices you are never going to face.

    Your argument seems to fly in the face of the story quoted in the post:

    It was our last parental decision.

  259. 259
    robertdsc says:

    Great post and comments.

  260. 260
    Hedley Lamarr says:

    Andrew just can’t quit the Pope.

  261. 261
    TenguPhule says:

    And a lot of these “pro life” people don’t want women to have access to reliable birth control…or reliable sex education for that matter.

    They also love to pretend that denied the chance for a legal abortion, women would only choose to carry to term. Completely forgetting that when abortion was illegal, women got them anyway. Many died from it because they could only afford chop shops.

    But if the woman doesn’t want to be pregnant for whatever reason, the only way to ensure she does carry to term is lock her up until she gives birth or dies.

    And that is “pro-life’s” dirty little secret.

  262. 262
    Hugh Jass says:

    Kay — Thanks for the reply. I don’t disagree that Roe was a practical decision (although I don’t think it’s supported in the Constitution). I’m not even going to say that I think Roe is wrong, at least as a legislative matter.

    I just thought that the practice of many of the commenters here (and elsewhere) of declaring how correct they are and how stupid/evil anyone is who disagrees with them doesn’t really move a discussion along or enlighten or persuade anyone.

  263. 263
    Silver says:

    @Persia:

    I don’t give a flying fuck what Andrew Sullivan does.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to see if I can get Stevie Wonder to give me a critique on a photograph I took last week.

  264. 264
    Scott H says:

    …it certainly isn’t changing Sullivan’s opinion to come in here, read the comments, and see nothing but people being assholes to him.

    Yes, it will. Andrew Sullivan is desperately sensitive to what people think of him. Being found offensive is the British kryptonite. Even Christopher Hitchens can’t wind up to outrage or bully unless he has a nose full – and, afterwards, he wallows in regret, fag-ends, and self-loathing. Nonetheless, Hitchens can never be accused of intellectual pusillanimity.

    I read the Daily Dish for a very long time, until I couldn’t. Andrew Sullivan writes as well as anyone on the internet or in print, but, too often, what he writes is second-rate. He doesn’t struggle with ideas as much as he flounders and flops. When reason challenges his pre-conceptions, he rationalizes. It is unsatisfactory.

    If Sullivan ever lashes himself to the wheel, as so many of us have to do, every day that God sends to confound our prejudices, I would be thrilled to return to reading him. Until then, I will confine myself to Balloon Juice, and precious little else.

  265. 265
    Glenn I says:

    Tired of other people’s morals and consciences crawling all over my body, leaving silvery scum trails.

  266. 266
    Little Dreamer says:

    I don’t disagree that Roe was a practical decision (although I don’t think it’s supported in the Constitution).

    Please cite your reasoning for this.

  267. 267
    kay says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    You’re welcome. I see the conflict. I see the divergent interests.

    I understand the belief that life begins at conception.

    I have to tell you, though, that view isn’t supported in US law, not now, and not ever. There’s no tradition in US law regarding children that says babies are people prior to birth. It’s a huge, radical expansion on state reach. Outlawing abortion is just the first problem. Then we’re at the hard part. We now have a “person” inside another “person”, and it isn’t 1860. ” Persons” come with a whole set of rights. The “right to life” isn’t the half of it.

    From what I can figure, that view would be impossible to limit without essentially suspending the mother’s rights for the term of the pregnancy, if the two come in conflict. We can’t remove the baby, like we can with an infant. What now?

    The Roe court grappled with that. It’s impossible to reconcile.

    Anyway, thanks for the civility. I enjoyed the talk.

  268. 268

    @John Cole:

    My god, what a prick you are. You can’t even tolerate people disagreeing with you about another blogger without dumping this pile on your thread?

    edit: I took out the punchline, because I am such a good person. It might make the baby Jesus cry.

  269. 269
    Gwen says:

    For your next rant: Please write about how mainstream media in today’s stories about the murder of Dr. Tiller had their first quotes from Operation Rescue (WaPo) and the Family Research Council (NPR).

  270. 270

    […] That’s happened a lot with me when reading John Cole on Balloon-Juice. I was recently very annoyed by an Andrew Sullivan post about abortion where he said he could not in good conscience support abortion but really appreciates all the readers who have submitted horrific medical situations that caused them to get abortions. I mean the emails he got were so cut and dry that abortion was absolutely necessary in these cases that I felt he was being a real asshole pontificating about his conscience. Sure enough John Cole was annoyed too. And he articulates it in a very convincing post titled “Time to Rethink Your Conscience.” […]

  271. 271
    Hugh Jass says:

    Little Dreamer — I don’t see where in the Constitution that the framers guaranteed a right to an abortion.

    I don’t think that a general right to privacy that people can construct from various amendments does it, either. If it were the case that a person has a right to privacy regarding his/her own medical issues, then the FDA regulations would be unconstitutional on the ground that I should be able to decide what I put into my body to make myself feel better.

  272. 272
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Little Dreamer: You are so right. That segment on Rachel on how three states only have one doctor each who performs abortions (S. and N. Dakota and Missouri, I believe) really opened my eyes. I knew about the twenty-four hour waiting period, etc., but still.

    Man. It’s becoming illegal by becoming impossible/impractical to get, which is another way in which harassment techniques work.

    @MNPundit: You’re right. The father, ideally, if it’s a consensual relationship does have input. However, the last word is the potential mother’s. I dated a guy who did not want me to have an abortion if I got pregnant. I asked if he would be willing to be the primary caretaker if I carried a baby because I would not. He said no, so I said then he didn’t get a say in the matter.

    In addition, women get pregnant from rape and/or incest, and I don’t think the father should have any say in those matters.

    As for the tubes tied, I was fuzzy, I’m sorry. I’ve been wanting to get my tubes tied since I was twenty-two, but doctors won’t do it until you’re in your thirties without a medical reason. They will after menopause, I believe. That’s what I get for writing too hastily. Sorry about that!

    I just got called moonbat for the first time on my blog. I am officially a farwing lefty.

  273. 273
    asiangrrlMN says:

    Deleted. My first one went through

  274. 274
    Little Dreamer says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    I don’t see where the writers of the Constitution defended people being married either, so are you saying marriage isn’t covered in the Constitution? I don’t see where a right to an education is listed in the Constitution, so are children being forced to go to school actually being kidnapped if they don’t want to go?

    That’s an idiotic road to travel, the Constitution did not spell out specificity on any list of numerous subjects, it gave us general guidelines that could be applied to specific situations.

  275. 275
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Little Dreamer: Oh, thank god you answered so I didn’t have to. I’m worn out.

  276. 276
    Little Dreamer says:

    As for the tubes tied, I was fuzzy, I’m sorry. I’ve been wanting to get my tubes tied since I was twenty-two, but doctors won’t do it until you’re in your thirties without a medical reason. They will after menopause, I believe. That’s what I get for writing too hastily. Sorry about that!

    When I had my ectopic pregnancy and had to have one ovary removed (along with the fallopian tube that burst) I asked the doctor to remove the other one as well. He said no. I was 41.

  277. 277
    Little Dreamer says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    Anytime sweetheart. ;)

  278. 278

    @John Cole

    You know, if all some of you have to offer is just crapping all over Sullivan, I have to wonder what you think you are accomplishing. It isn’t changing my opinion of his blog, which I think is a great read.
    And it certainly isn’t changing Sullivan’s opinion to come in here, read the comments, and see nothing but people being assholes to him. I’m honestly not sure what you think you are doing other than making yourself look bad.

    John, I like Andrew Sullivan’s blog, I read it occasionally, have sent him fan-mail and we both love the Pet Shop Boys. However there are times when I want to subject him to an intellectual waterboarding to get him to realize how completely hypocritical he is on certain issues.

    Andrew Sullivan is intelligent, but most of what his intelligence is dedicated to is intellectual gymnastics and rationalizing and reconciling inconsistencies between his lifestyle and his beliefs. He is a doubleplusgood doublethinker.

    A dumber person than Sullivan, someone who didn’t go to Oxford and have a picture of Burke tattooed on his left buttock and Micheal Oakeshott on his right, would say “Hmmmm, I’m gay, and I grew up Catholic, but the Catholic Church doesn’t want anything to do with me except to demonize me for being gay and to blame people like me for their molestation problem. Time for me to pop smoke and haul ass out of here and find another church.”, but not Andrew Sullivan.

    Andrew Sullivan can write hundreds of blog posts lamenting the homophobia of the Catholic Church, their complicity in child molestation and their new Nazi pope and then turn around and talk about how wonderful the Church is, despite their homophobia, their complicity in child molestation and their Nazi pope and then rotate around another axis and lament how hard it is for him to be a Catholic because of their homophobia, complicity in child molestation and their shiny new Nazi pope. Andrew Sullivan can write eloquently about the need for the church to recognize gay marriage and relate moving stories about gay couples who are denied basic civil rights and then rotate around another axis and write about his pro-life beliefs and how he cannot in good conscience support abortion, even after reading moving stories that other people told him. Andrew Sullivan can write hundreds of posts about how horrible it is that there are intolerant bigots who want to control or deny his sexuality but then spin around yet another axis and support taking away a woman’s control over her body.

    Then there’s his position on conservatives serving in the military. Andrew went to great lengths to point out that just because most of the people who supported the War in Iraq, himself included, had never served in the military that that didn’t mean that they were cowards or hypocrites or chickenhawks. Oh no. Again, someone dumber than Andrew, someone who didn’t go to Oxford and who hadn’t sent away to RealDoll.com for a life-sized, anatomically correct male sex doll with interchangeable Edward Burke and Michael Oakeshott heads, would have said “Hmmm, these assholes don’t practice what they preach. What hypocrites.” and wouldn’t have been able to write an eloquent defense of the principle “Do as I say, not do as I do” as Sullivan did when confronted with this topic.

    Then there’s Andrew’s take on health care. Andrew hates single-payer and decries government interference in the health care system. But if it weren’t for government interference in the health care system Andrew Sullivan would have died of AIDS back in the 1990s because there wasn’t a whole lot of willingness in the private sector back in the 1980s and 1990s to spend lots of money researching treatments for a disease that primarily affected IV drug users and homosexuals and private insurance companies had no interest in providing health insurance to people infected with a fatal disease and paying for their expensive drugs and treatments. So the government stepped in and started researching HIV and laws were written that prohibited discrimination against HIV positive people and requiring insurers to accept them as clients. So Andrew is willing to countenance enough government interference in the health care system to keep his ass alive and insured, but not so much as to actually provide health care for people who aren’t expatriate, gay, British Catholic Tories suffering from AIDS.

    There is a certain mad brilliance that is required in order to do this sort of thing and to continue doing it, day in and day out, year after year and in print, without waking up one day, looking in the mirror and saying “I am completely and reprehensibly full of shit”. Me, I’m just too stupid to do this sort of thing, probably because I went to public schools and a state university and grew up Lutheran to boot.

    When I was a teenager and before my ideological immune system was fully developed I had a dalliance with Ayn Rand (Via her books, it was only via her books and was never physical and it was just a phase I was going through and anyways I was just experimenting.). I had read Atlas Shrugged and I used to bitch and whine about all of the lazy, dirty no-loads on welfare. My Dad, an amazing man who survived childhood polio and at the age of 67 is still working on ballistic missiles, got tired of listening to my ranting bullshit and said that someone who was having his parents pay for his college education and who had never worked for a living had no business whatsoever bitching about how other people were lazy.

    Now, if I had been smart I would have been able to rationalize, ala Sullivan, a means of not only continuing to have my parents pay for my college education, but also continuing to bitch about those lazy, dirty no-loads on welfare. I could have had my Rand cake and my parents could have eaten my bills too. But I wasn’t smart enough to figure this out, I was just too fucking stupid to reconcile the inconsistencies between my beliefs and my actions. I had to admit, because I lack Andrew Sullivan’s mad skillz at rationalization, intellectual gymnastics and doublethink, that the old man was right and that my shit was weak. Someone smarter than I was and perhaps possessing some empathy or a greater understanding of the world, would have realized that his shit was weak and that the solution to this was to shut his mouth about the lazy, dirty no-loads on welfare while letting his parents continue to pay for his education. Unfortunately I wasn’t smart and at the age of 18 went out and got a job and started paying for my own education so I could continue to bitch about the lazy, dirty no-loads on welfare.

    Of course once I was working for a living, going to school and spending weekends with my National Guard unit I didn’t have as much time to bitch about lazy, dirty no-loads on welfare. And once I met people, some of whom became my friends, who had been on welfare and who were working their asses off to get through school, I realized that some of the hardest working people I knew came from poor backgrounds and had been on welfare and that most of the lazy, useless, stupid people I knew came from incredibly privileged backgrounds, and spent lots of time bitching about lazy, dirty no-loads on welfare.

    But if I had been as smart as Andrew Sullivan I could have built a beautiful fortress out of denial, hypocrisy and rationalization and reconciled my Randroid worldview with the fact that I was cashing mommy and daddy’s checks to pay tuition and room and board and I would have had a much easier time in college. And if I were as smart as Andrew Sullivan I could get a job where someone would pay me to write about it and to clutch my pearls while doing so.

  279. 279
    Phoebe says:

    I just want to shout out the love to, in order of appearance:

    1. John, for the post and @204
    2. Danton @25
    3. Bill in OH @43
    4. jcricket @97 and 117
    5. lyle 4 @103
    6. SLS @140
    7. Original Lee @166
    8. Bob in Pacifica @208

    What you all said.

  280. 280
    Jrod says:

    Nice one, Cole. I look forward to the day you finally add Sully to your “to be monitored and mocked” category.

  281. 281

    […] much to add to this work of blogging art. I’m curious to see Andrew’s response. (If he chooses to do it, of course.) The […]

  282. 282
    Phoebe says:

    and Kay at 257. I have to eat now, I’m starving.

  283. 283
    binzinerator says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    And the question isn’t whether I (or the government) gets to dictate your life, but rather whether you get to dictate what happens to another life—that of the fetus/baby/whatever you want to call it.

    Bullshit. Just more fundie rationalization.

    “Another life” is your religious belief talking, not anyone else’s and it damned well shouldn’t be enforced by any government.

    But what isn’t subject to religious belief or interpretation here is whether or not that group of cells you wish to force your view of life upon is considered a real living person. The existence — the personhood — of the women you want to dicatate to is indisputable by any religious or empirical means. But the religious beliefs you seek to dictate to them — the personhood of certain cells within their own bodies — that existence is disputable. It is your belief, a religious belief that many other people do not share nor is it supported by empirical evidence.

    What you want in actuality is for government to dictate your own religious beliefs to other people, backed by the state’s monopoly on violence.

    I see a pattern here, clearer now with the terror killing of Dr. Tiller. It is the insistence on the use of violence, whether sponsored by the state or perpetrated by criminals, to dictate your religious beliefs to everyone else. Ultimately your kind of fundie seeks to kill those people who refuse to believe as you do. So much for ‘pro-life’.

    You fundies have no fucking clue how arrogant and hypocritical you are. Or how un-Christian. If this be the manifestation of your faith I can tell you it inspires in me not wonder or awe or a desire to emulate it but rather contempt and loathing and fear.

  284. 284
    El Cid says:

    I don’t see where in the Constitution that the framers guaranteed a right to an abortion.

    I don’t see anywhere in the Constitution where it gives any government the authority to prevent women from accessing or doctors from administering legal, safe, and important medical care which does not directly affect another legally recognized human being.

    This is a huge endorsement of government authority which instead is wrongly portrayed as a weak and temporary right which must be defended by the individual, either woman or doctor, against an all-powerful state which will determine the future status of a woman’s pregnancy.

  285. 285

    @DanSmoot’sGhost:

    Apparently, from what I am hearing offline, there was some grade-A gay bashing going on here re:sullivan which prompted the earlier post I referred to as a pile.

    I don’t tolerate gay bashing, so I certainly don’t want to be associated with any of it. However, there is good old Sullivan-bashing going on in this thread which has nothing to do with his personal life choices. That bashing, I wholeheartedly support and have participated in.

    To the extent that Mr. Cole’s admonition was directed at the gay bashing, I retract my earlier blast.

  286. 286
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says:

    This was a great post, John, and I’m sure it’s going to be linked back to a lot. You may have actually done some good in the world today. I haven’t posted on any of the threads about this terrorist act because I was just too goddamn angry.

    I also put myself in the camp of the people who find your admiration for Sullivan puzzling, but let that go. What I find ultimately so distasteful that I can’t let it go is Sullivan’s (and conservatives’ in general) (mis)use of the word “conscience”.

    “They keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means.”

    Conscience is rooted in the ability to put yourself in the place of others. That much-maligned “empathy”. “Conscience” without “empathy” is a word without meaning. Sullivan is a self-declared conservative (i.e. sociopath) therefore he is utterly incapable by definition of experiencing conscience.

    Feelings supposedly put in your head by some imaginary Bronze Age Wind God DO NOT COUNT! That is just a substitute for conscience invented to keep the 28% incapable of experiencing the real thing in line. Obviously this assassination is one more demonstration that it has stopped working.

    We must stop letting these sociopaths abuse this word! Call them on it whenever they use it, and tell them Sky Daddy has nothing to do with the matter!

  287. 287
    Krista says:

    That was very prettily put, DanSmoot’sGhost. :)

    I’ve been wanting to get my tubes tied since I was twenty-two, but doctors won’t do it until you’re in your thirties without a medical reason.

    That’s what really burns my ass. An adult woman is considered to be unable to permanently decide not to reproduce. Yet, if you had been a 22-year-old woman who went to the doctor for prenatal consultation prior to getting pregnant, there’s not one of them that would have dissuaded you on age. And having a baby is just as irrevocable as having a tubal ligation.

    What’s worse is the way that people talk to women who say they don’t want kids. Either they’re treated condescendingly (“Oh, you’ll change your mind, don’t worry!”) or they’re looked at askance as though there is something mentally wrong with them. Either way, they’re presumed to not know their own mind and treated as a child themselves.

    And yet, if a man says he never wants to have kids, they’re generally taken at their word. Why is it considered so fucking unnatural and unbelievable when a woman genuinely does not want children?

  288. 288
    Ash Can says:

    @Little Dreamer: He may have done you a favor by saying no. Ovary removal carries its own set of problems. At the very least, though, he should have explained that to you.

  289. 289
    Emma says:

    Wile E. Quixote @ 278: I’ve never understood those people who propose to perfect strangers on the interwebs but I might make an exception for you.

  290. 290
    oh really says:

    Like DanSmoot’sGhost I have no interest in gay bashing of any kind. Sullivan’s sexual orientation is irrelevant in this context and nothing I said about him was related in any way to his being gay, about which I care not at all.

    Any comments I’ve made about Sullivan were directed entirely at his attitudes and opinions concerning late term abortions.

  291. 291
    Little Dreamer says:

    @Ash Can:

    Well, I don’t have a history of heart disease in my family. I would have taken the risk, personally.

  292. 292
    latts says:

    delurking…

    It’s not just “her body” that’s at-issue.

    Well, in practical terms, it is. And more specifically, it’s her liberty over her own body that’s at issue. The rest is merely existential speculation that, while it may be very enjoyable for those engaging in it (especially since they have nothing at stake), still does not provide any claim for legally depriving women of their aforementioned liberty. We in the general public have no stake in a specific embryo or fetus, IOW… our legitimate interests are in the health of women and supporting healthy pregnancies, and maybe even in any preventable health issues that are brought into the world with live births. I don’t like that last bit much because of the pregnancy-police implications, but I at least see some valid reasons to worry about things like fetal alcohol syndrome & the related negative impacts. But miscarriages are nothing to us legally but statistics and items in medical records; stillbirths just end up in the public-health files and the memories of a very few affected people. Both were conceived and fit every anti-choicer’s anguished, sentimental definition of ‘life,’ yet we as a society don’t mourn them beyond our sorrow for the family’s lost hopes, because we haven’t actually lost anything. We try to lower pregnancy losses because they’re bad for women’s health in general, but not because we desperately need more babies.

    So, feelings are feelings and everyone’s entitled to them, but feelings are neither Universal Truths nor valid policies. We need more than frowning and navel-gazing to curtail the rights of actual people, after all.

    Regarding Sullivan: eh. He’s really a very good writer and I’ve grown fond of his emotive journeys, but presented as a thinker or analyst, I’ll pass. Of course he’s not going to grasp that his lack of ‘support’ is irrelevant and his sympathy is only mildly useful at this point in time, but that’s pretty much the case.

  293. 293
    Jane says:

    Thank you – your comments provide a dose of sanity in an otherwise insane debate. This is the first time I’ve read your blog. It won’t be the last.

  294. 294
    binzinerator says:

    @kay:

    The state would have a duty to intervene, because an 8 week old fetus would have the same protections as an 8 day old baby.

    I believe this is the whole point. And of course it has ramifications. I think we both can see that the consequences would be a disaster and create all kinds of human misery for many reasons. For people like jass however it is a goal.

    These people will kill those who offend their beliefs. Do you really think they care what the downsides are if the government begins enforcing those beliefs?

  295. 295
    tc125231 says:

    Most of you know how much I like Andrew Sullivan, and I’m not a fanatic about abortion either way.

    I also like Sullivan, subject to certain caveats, which may helpexplain his unbelieveably pompous remark about abortion that you quoted.

    1. He is at his best when he is doing something that won’t be popular with his conservative buddies
    2. He is really empathetic regarding the problems of gay people. With other groups –those having abortions, or those who are uninsured –he is very likely to fall for specious arguments made by his “conservative” half-wit fellow travelers. When called on that, he often falls back on a pompous restatement of his conservative principles.

    So this situation is a perfect storm. It triggers all his worst character flaws in one fell swoop.

    This is not to say that Sullivan is a total idiot, generally, but he certainly is a horse’s patoot on this issue, as well as health care.

  296. 296
    Laura W says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    It really is about a woman’s autonomy in the end, else we are nothing but brood mares. If that is the case, then I would demand that every woman be allowed to get her tubes at any age after menstruation (which most doctors won’t allow).

    Real women breed. Period.
    Which is why I had my tubes tied at 30.
    ‘Cuz I’m all about the fake.

  297. 297
    tc125231 says:

    @Danton:

    At the risk of boasting, I think we (at least so far) have been good parents—strict but not too strict, always there for the kids, consistent, concerned about their development, loving and supportive, helping them understand the balance between responsibility and freedom, and everything else that goes with raising kids.

    Good for you. If you don’t understand, however, how much like you also have had to achieve those outcomes, you are genuinely a fool.

    There but for fortune.

  298. 298
    ken adler says:

    thank you, thank you, thank you for this post.

  299. 299

    […] He Helped: Here’s a piece on his life. The stories of people who needed his services are very terrible and very personal. While I can’t blame any of these people for not wanting to discuss such […]

  300. 300
    kuvasz says:

    What is the point of criticizing Sullivan? The guy is a fucking asshole, and one did not have to read his columns about Tiller’s murder to know so.

    I don’t know what the hell it is with Americans. Whenever they hear an English accent they think that the speaker has some sort of inate intelligence.

    They don’t.

    “Randy” Andy Sullivan had such moral fortitude to have unprotected sex with other homosexuals without telling his partners about him being HIV-positive. If that is not a clue about his lack of humanity, what the hell is?

  301. 301
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Wile E. Quixote: That was beautiful, man. I just had to say that.

    @Little Dreamer: Wow, really? Did he give you a reason for not taking the other one? That’s one thing I love about my doc, she gives me ALL the information I need to make an informed choice.

    @Ash Can: Huh. That was an interesting article. Thanks for linking to it.

    @Krista: I got a lot of shit for saying I didn’t want kids. I got the condescension of, “Oh, you’ll change your mind”; I got the, “All women want babies. Wait until your clock starts ticking” reaction; I got the anger. Yes, some people thought my decision not to have kids meant I thought they were bad people for wanting kids. Oh, and I had people saying that I must really hate kids not to want them. No, I really love kids–as long as they are not my own.

    It frustrated the hell out of me that the simple statement of, “I don’t want kids” meant so much to so many people. Hm. I am thirty-eight now. I suppose I should get it done.

  302. 302
    Mnemosyne says:

    @kay:

    It’ll take about 5 minutes for the first neglect case to be brought on behalf of a 12 week fetus.

    What do you mean, “5 minutes” — it happens all of the time right now. Women have even been prosecuted for murder if they have a stillborn child.

    Now imagine how much worse it would be if everything from a fertilized egg to a full-term fetus was termed a legal person worthy of the protection of the state.

  303. 303
    malraux says:

    @tc125231:

    He is really empathetic regarding the problems of gay people.

    Saying one can empathize with people of one’s own group isn’t a very strong statement.

  304. 304

    @Little Dreamer:

    Actually, it IS resolved, abortion is legal, if you don’t like it, then go lobby people to change it.

    Legal, mostly – recently proved to be damned dangerous to provide.

    Regarding Sully, he’s a hypocrite of the first water – but that is nothing new for religious conservative ideologues when something conflicts with their private desires. No contradiction is too great for them. Being impolite about Sully’s sexual orientation or health is childish and John was right to react to it after deleting it, IMHO. Being a good writer doesn’t save him from being an asshat.

  305. 305
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    I don’t see where in the Constitution that the framers guaranteed a right to an abortion.

    That’s because abortion, at least in the first trimester, was perfectly legal in the United States until the late 1800s. Why would they think they would need to guarantee a right to something that was already legal?

  306. 306
    Little Dreamer says:

    @Little Dreamer: Wow, really? Did he give you a reason for not taking the other one? That’s one thing I love about my doc, she gives me ALL the information I need to make an informed choice.

    No, I did not have health care at the time and so I was assigned a doctor to care for me. He did not spend much time talking to me about my condition. Actually we spent more time arguing about him wanting me to be transported to another hospital where he was a resident because it was closer to his golf course. I refused. The nurses agreed with my reasoning. Said doctor became very condescending to me after that.

  307. 307
    tc125231 says:

    @malraux: It wasn’t meant to be.

    “Just the facts. m’am.”

  308. 308
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @latts: You should delurk more often. That was really nicely put.

    @kuvasz: Um, confusion and being distraught? Denial? I have my issues with Sully, but I don’t think I would say he’s suffering from a lack of humanity.

    @Laura W: Dang, girl. Was it a fairly easy procedure? It’s time.

  309. 309
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Denise: …or reliable sex education for that matter.

    Or access to vaccines against cervical cancer. Because, and this is openly stated, it will interfere with the punishment for having sex.

    Anyone who dreams this is not about power over reproduction is stoned dumb stupid.

  310. 310
    Silver says:

    Sullivan’s sexual orientation and HIV status certainly play into this discussion.

    As to the first, he’s never going to have to deal with an abortion, even on a spousal level. As to the second, isn’t he one of them conservatives that are big on “personal responsibility” as far as it applies to pregnancy?

    Oddly enough, it doesn’t apply to his own sexual behavior. Shocked, I am…

  311. 311
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Little Dreamer: Nice, very nice. No healthcare for you!

  312. 312
    Indylib says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    I’ve been wanting to get my tubes tied since I was twenty-two, but doctors won’t do it until you’re in your thirties without a medical reason. They will after menopause, I believe.

    Not to be picky, but you probably don’t need to get your tubes tied as a birth control method after menopause.

    The Navy doc who delivered my twins was perfectly willing to tie my tubes while I was on the table from my C-section. I had 4 kids and was 34. She said in no uncertain terms that it was my decision. My husband was out on his ship at the time, and I chose not to have it done right then because I was going home alone with twin newborns and had a 2 yr old and 9 yr old waiting for me and was unwilling to put anymore stress on my hormones under those circumstances. Of course I had the option of going back in any time and having the procedure done for free because my family has Tri-Care aka government provided health care. It turned out that I never needed to do it because my husband manned up and offered to be snipped. Voila – permanent birth control.

  313. 313
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ash Can:

    Every time I hear “ovary,” I think of Julia Sweeney and her wandering ovary in God Said. “Ha!” (also a movie).

    The funniest book and movie you will ever see about cancer.

  314. 314
    Kiril says:

    Nevermind. Somebody else already said it better. @Wile E. Quixote

  315. 315

    @Silver:

    Sullivan’s sexual orientation and HIV status certainly play into this discussion.

    Certainly it plays in, being rude about it is stupidly childish which was my point. He can’t be a mother and probably not a father and his religion is immaterial. Then there is the issue of personal responsibility for these asshats being about you not them.

  316. 316
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Indylib: Yes, good point about not needing to do it after menopause. Doh! Well. I am thirty-eight, so I think I can get them tied now with little problem. I will ask my doctor when I go in for my yearly.

    @Mnemosyne: A friend of mine told me about this and played me a bit. Really funny.

    @Chuck Butcher: Exactly, Chuck. I agree with you. There is no need to devolve into taunting Sully about his choices or his sexuality. To me, that’s distasteful.

    Totally OT, Chuck, more Harley porn?

  317. 317
    Beth in VA says:

    Beautiful post and righteous rage. I know you’re not speaking on behalf of women here, just yourself, but I couldn’t say it better. Please just leave my doctor, the hospital, the nurses and me (the patient) alone!

  318. 318
    Genine says:

    Brill post, John. It’s not in my top three favorites. I admire your ability to get to the heart of the matter.

    Kudos!

  319. 319
    Laura W says:

    @asiangrrlMN: It was a fairly easy procedure. I had it done simultaneous with an abortion, and had anesthesia. He was dreamy. Michael McDonald dreamy. Cost me $5. Best insurance plan EVER! “Voluntary sterilization” never sounded so attractive*.

    Don’t let them tell you that you’ll be up and around the next day, however. Because it’s usually laprascopic, they shoot your abdomen full up with all this gassy air stuff to inflate everything and move your organs out of the way so as to get to your tubes (do not try this at home. I am not an MD, nor do I play one on this blog). When you go home and that air starts moving up to your chest, back, shoulders, neck and head, you might wish you’d just had the baby. (Not really.)

    *This has probably been mentioned a time or two over the last two days in one of these threads but with all of our scientific genius and technological brilliance, WHY THE FUCK CAN WE NOT COME UP WITH A FORM OF BIRTH CONTROL THAT: DOES NOT BREAK; SLIP AWAY FROM THE HOT ZONE; PLOP OUT IN THE TOILET WHEN YOU MOVE YOUR BOWELS, RENDERING IT INEFFECTIVE; REQUIRE YOU TO WALK AROUND OOZING ALL OVER YOURSELF FOR HOURS; DRIVE YOU MAD WITH HORMONAL FRENZY?

    Oh. I feel so much better now.
    Whew.

  320. 320
    Indylib says:

    @Laura W:

    Two words – Depo shot.

  321. 321
    Laura W says:

    Can’t do hormones, Indylib. Don’t work in my bod.

  322. 322
    kay says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Thanks. I was going a little mental when there was movement in my state legislature towards defining “person” as “at conception, because it’s so profound and radical, and pro-lifers were acting as though it was this time-honored designation, and would just go off without a hitch.

    I have to say, they can be downright dishonest in how they frame these things. They consistently act as if the Rights of the Fetus were handed down through hundreds of years and they just were not.

    Children were property, and had rights only through their parents, for hundreds of years. They got “rights” in the traditional sense around about 1954. Pretending that there was this hallowed Right To Life re: unborn children just isn’t accurate.

    Children had jack, as individuals, and unborn children had less than that. The first child abuse case was modeled on an animal cruelty complaint. The animal cruelty complaint came first.

  323. 323
    Hugh Jass says:

    Binzinerator @283 — I don’t know why you think I’m a “fundie,” or what my “faith” has to do with my opinion on the issue of abortion. I’m an atheist.

    Latts @292 — “Feelings” and “existential speculation” have nothing to do with my point. The human cells that are growing in a woman’s uterus are real. You can argue (and society can decide) that the “potential life,” or whatever, isn’t worth protecting, or has certain rights only along a sliding scale as decided under Roe. But the fetus is more than “existential speculation.” You can pretend otherwise, but you’re minimizing a serious moral issue.

    Mnemosyne @305 — Your reasoning is wrong. The First Amendment guaranteed the right to speak freely, assemble and practice religion. Those activities all were legal in the 1790s, but the framers still made it clear that government couldn’t abridge those rights.

  324. 324
    Buck B. says:

    Is there a better blogger out there than John Cole? I think not.

  325. 325
    Indylib says:

    @Laura W:
    That sucks.

  326. 326
    kay says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    Roe came out of a contraception case. The state of Connecticut had a majority Catholic legislature, and they outlawed certain kinds of contraception. The Court found a right to privacy, and said the state couldn’t intervene in procreation decisions.

    From there, it was off to the races. I think it’s important to remember the history, though, and who moved first. It was the state. They jumped in.

    We’ve almost come full circle, with the effort to define life as beginning at conception. It’s the same argument.

  327. 327
    Laura W says:

    @Indylib: But I do like my 4″ Serta Memory Foam mattress! And while I did not get the cooling one as I intended, based on your testimonial, I double-sheeted it and have not found it any more hot than I normally am. Which is hot enough.
    (I do not think talking about a bed is too very OT, do you?)

  328. 328
    latts says:

    No, Hugh, I’m saying that as a matter of public concern, what’s going on in a woman’s uterus is not ‘real,’ because we don’t have any right to even know about it– most women don’t even tell others until after the first trimester– much less stake a societal claim on a woman’s body. The fact that there’s a blastocyst/embryo in existence is of no particular interest to any of us per se except as an existential matter that has no practical political application… unless, of course, the real interest is in governing the womb territory. That’s why I pointed out how little we actually have invested in miscarriages & stillbirths, even though those are just as ‘real’– if more valued by the prospective parents– than aborted pregnancies.

  329. 329
    Dalancroft says:

    Typical “cafeteria Catholic” — gotta stay against abortion, ‘cuz the Church sez it’s wrong, but I’m gonna suck my boyfriend’s dick tonight.

    As a straight male and father of two children, I don’t get it. I just don’t, and don’t think I ever will.

  330. 330
    Waingro says:

    @Wile E. Quixote #278:

    Beautiful.

  331. 331

    @asiangrrlMN:

    more Harley porn?

    If I don’t post something other than scooter shots you’ll be my only reader. I’ve got a couple lurking on the phone/camera card, I suppose it’s time to see what quality it shoots. OK, soon. Don’t expect a blogwhoring link here, though, you’ll just have to become a regular…

    I rode my old bike home from Salem Monday, kinda like getting out of a Corvette and driving a VW bus, 400 miles of 2 lane curvy road crossing 3 mountain ranges. It is a good bike, it just can’t compare.

  332. 332
    Jason says:

    @latts: +1 on that. Good delurk.

  333. 333
    Nick says:

    Hugh Jass

    Little Dreamer—I don’t see where in the Constitution that the framers guaranteed a right to an abortion.
    —————————

    Abortions (at least until quickening) were legal at the time the Constitution was written.

    At best, one could argue that abortion was the sort of freedom which was left up to the states to regulate. But the rejoinder to that abortion is similar to concerns about allowing states to regulate acts which affect basic human rights (issues raised by not allowing black people to eat, use bathrooms, or gas up at various facilities deemed unconstitutional}.

    If we can’t allow states to decide whether or not to allow discrimination in the selling of food or gas, then how can we allow them to decide on whether a woman can have access to an abortion?

  334. 334
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @Krista:

    They don’t stop and think, “What if that was me? What if that was my daughter?”

    In some cases, they’ll have the abortion, or have their daughter have the abortion, and then go right back to protesting.

  335. 335
    Mousebumples says:

    I agree with your statement about his statement (wow, that’s a convoluted sentence), but I am really glad that he’s been posting those accounts to his blog.

    For the past decade or so, I’ve considered myself pro-choice but against late-term (or partial-birth) abortions. I didn’t realize that so many developmental defects couldn’t be noticed/diagnosed/confirmed until so close to term.

    I still oppose late-term abortions for people who simply decided they didn’t “want to have a baby” anymore. But if there’s a viable medical reason for termination (i.e. baby is unlikely to survive long after birth, if they survive to term, etc.), it makes sense. I don’t know if I could ever go through with such a decision, personally, but the option should be available to those who want to pursue that avenue.

    Plus, a BIG “hell yes” to the comment regarding health care costs for developmentally challenged babies. Spot on.

  336. 336
    Krista says:

    In some cases, they’ll have the abortion, or have their daughter have the abortion, and then go right back to protesting.

    Oh, I know. I’ve read the stories as well. Some of them even have the unmitigated gall to be offended at having to sit in the waiting room with “those awful sluts” (i.e. the other women there for the EXACT SAME THING.)

    I can’t imagine the mental gymnastics it must take to be that much of a hypocrite, where you demand access to something that you would gleefully deny everybody else.

    The funny thing is that a lot of these people who claim that God is against abortion conveniently ignore that the Bible says diddly-squat about abortion. It DOES, however, have quite a bit to say about hypocrisy, though.

  337. 337
    sheiler says:

    Not to totally derail this interesting discussion — Isn’t a corporation also considered to be a person?

    Fantastic post, John. Bravo bravo bravo.

  338. 338
    Interrobang says:

    If you can’t even be pro-choice when you’re talking about something like the stuff Dr. Tiller did, where it’s very extreme, life-saving kind of stuff, averting the worst possible disasters, there’s no hope for you.

    That said, I am an adoptee born in a country at a time when abortion was not legal. My biological mother was 16. I was very premature (what they call an ELBW baby, 900g) and have a permanent disability and a whole range of lifelong health issues.

    Because I believe nobody should ever have to be in either my biological mother’s position, or mine, I am hardcore pro-choice. I am pro-choice even in situations that make a lot of the Sensible Liberals™ squeamish: Don’t want to have a baby with Down Syndrome or other disability? Fine by me; Just like I wouldn’t want the government telling me I have to take a job as a coal miner, an accountant, or a forester, I don’t want you having to take a permanent job doing something you’ll hate. (At extreme, forcing parents into those roles leads to cases like Robert Latimer’s.) I personally would rather people were honest with themselves and made the right decision for them, instead of trying to do the culturally saintly thing and then hating themselves forever or snapping 10 or 15 years down the road.

    Abortion is a good thing. Full stop. No questions asked, no explanations warranted.

  339. 339
    kay says:

    @Nick:

    It’s endless, too, Nick. I’m convinced that’s why they haven’t overturned Roe. They have the numbers. They could. They won’t. Because it’s endless.

    “The Pill” is an abortificant, or can be. If life begins at conception, and an embroyo is expelled as a result of chemical contraception, you gotta outlaw those.

    Which takes us right back to the original right to privacy case.

  340. 340
    Krista says:

    That’s the funny thing, Interrobang. A lot of people think that people in a certain demographic (mothers, those with disabilities, those whose mothers had difficult pregnancies) must automatically be anti-abortion. I’ve always been pro-choice, and so many people condescendingly told me that I’d change my mind when I got pregnant.

    Being pregnant has only made me MORE pro-choice. Pregnancy ain’t easy, by any stretch of the imagination. You really do feel like your body’s been taken over, and are very conscious of this other being in there. If this were an unwanted pregnancy, and I was forced by law to carry it through, that would be incredibly nightmarish.

    My concern is that if the anti-abortionists win, and abortion is rendered entirely illegal, you’ll have women with unwanted pregnancies who basically just stop giving a fuck, neglect their prenatal care, and refuse to let being pregnant change their habits one bit. This would result in a lot more babies with severe disabilities being put up for adoption — and well…that doesn’t tend to go so well.

  341. 341
    Darkrose says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    The issue is how to treat the growing life in the body [emphasis mine]

    Because “the body” is some abstract entity that has no thoughts or feelings or desires or goals or life of its own. My uterus is apparently just a holding device for a being that’s clearly much more important than I am.

    You wonder why some of us think that anti-choice is nothing but thinly-veiled misogyny? That’s why. I’m not “the body” that happens to be pregnant, and you don’t fucking get to make decisions about what I do with my body.

  342. 342
    Josh Hueco says:

    @Wile E. Quixote:

    That was fucking awesome.

  343. 343
    sab says:

    I think Andrew Sullivan has performed an enormous service by allowing these stories to reach a large audience. If we are going to outlaw late term abortions, then we should at least understand what we are really doing.

  344. 344
    Hugh Jass says:

    Nick @333 — States can’t discriminate against black people because the Constitution was amended to say so. There’s been no similar amendment regarding abortion. In fact, it took an amendment to permit women the right to vote; it’s fantasy to think that the Constitution guaranteed reproductive freedom. (I know that it’s been interpreted as much, and I’m not arguing that Roe v. Wade isn’t the law of the land. But it’s based on a fiction, whether or not you like that fact.)

    Darkrose @341 — I’m not saying that a woman’s body should be ignored in this issue. I’m just saying that you can’t pretend there isn’t another being involved. Weigh the rights as you choose, but pro-lifers’ views regarding the sanctity of what they view as the life of an unborn baby present serious moral questions. Those questions shouldn’t be dismissed as “demented,” or the product of “assholes” who want only to rule a woman’s body.

  345. 345
    anonevent says:

    @Hugh Jass: Your argument to Nick is flawed because the constitution specifically stated who could vote: white male landowners. It took a number of amendments to include everyone who is now allowed to vote. The constitution’s 9th amendment is clear about the fact that anything not mentioned has not been taken away by the constitution.

  346. 346
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    Your reasoning is wrong. The First Amendment guaranteed the right to speak freely, assemble and practice religion. Those activities all were legal in the 1790s, but the framers still made it clear that government couldn’t abridge those rights.

    Wow. You actually think that there was freedom of religion in all of the states prior to the Constitution? You might want to look up the history of Quakers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony sometime and see how non-Puritans were treated. Pennsylvania was founded to give Quakers a refuge. Maryland was founded as a Roman Catholic colony. Most of the other colonies were officially Episcopalian. Freedom of religion was guaranteed because they’d seen the problems that having official religions caused between the states.

    Same with freedom of speech and assembly. Those certainly were not guaranteed in all 13 colonies prior to the Constitution being adopted. Don’t forget that we spent several years under the Articles of Confederation before they were found to be unworkable and the Constitution was written instead.

    The governments that the Founders grew up under had abridged all of those rights and most of the others in the Bill of Rights — that’s why it was written into the Constitution that the government could no longer do so. It’s not because they magically foresaw that someone somewhere might maybe abridge those rights so they’d better forbid that before it happened. It was because their rights had been abridged before and they didn’t want it to happen again.

  347. 347
    Darkrose says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    I’m not saying that a woman’s body should be ignored in this issue.

    Except that you did. You referred to women’s bodies as “the body”, which implies that there’s no actual person attached. Whether or not you intended it, that was a very telling comment. It’s exactly the kind of language used by the wing of the pro-life movement who could care less about the people who are already here, with our messy, complicated issues. The woman is irrelevant to them, and is simply a walking incubator. You may not hold this opinion, but you certainly sounded like it.

  348. 348
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    States can’t discriminate against black people because the Constitution was amended to say so.

    Actually, the Constitution was amended to make them citizens, and to extend those citizenship rights to anyone born on US soil, regardless of where their parents were from. Once they were made citizens, they were then granted the rights that other citizens were privy to.

  349. 349
    Mnemosyne says:

    Geeky aside: the citizenship issue was why it took so long to get the vote for women. Until the last hundred years, women were essentially not citizens, especially if they were married. They were forbidden by law to do simple things like form contracts on their own behalf. Under the law, women were permanent children — someone else always had to be willing to take responsibility for them and they always had to have someone act on their behalf. The fight for suffrage was really the fight to allow women to be full citizens in their own right and not mere dependents of “real” citizens.

    (Obviously, very simplified and compressed, though we can certainly chat about Caroline Norton and the Married Women’s Property Law if you like.)

  350. 350
    Garden says:

    In anger you are ignoring their real opinion, the same way they ignore ours. About a year ago, a fairly nice but sometimes annoying prolife activist I knew on the internet actually asked how we could approve of murder. Then wonder of wonders, she listened when I explained. We do not think that a small group of cells is a human being at conception. She and most prolife people I know do think that. So for them abortion is simply murder.. If you actually start from that opinion as if it were a fact, then there is no way you can tolerate abortion any more than I would tolerate letting people murder their toddlers. Most of them seem unaware that their starting point is not universally recognized.

    Ya’ll are doing the same thing in reverse by not noticing that about them. We need to make arguments to those we run into addressing why the assumption is not true, or perfectly good people can’t relax. I haven’t run into that many people w in real life, who are that obnoxious. The prolife types in politics and media are rather a different story. However I will say almost all of them are anti science.

    I also happen to think humanness involves brain function, and mercy involves not forcing pain on infants.

    The fact that they don’t all want to take home these children nor provide for them does not prove they aren’t sincere. It doesn’t make them saintly, but its just preventing what they think is murder. Several of you who post here are anti death penalty because sometimes someone innocent may be falsely executed. That doesn’t mean you would take them home with you. You think you owe them a fair chance is all. The separate conclusions come from separate definitions of when a human life begins.

    Of course the killer is beyond the pale and is not excused. I however would like to get us to the point where R vrs W is not under constant threat and the only way to do that is to make much more significant progress in educating people.. I’m sure calling everyone who is prolife names that aren’t true for most of them is not going to help.

  351. 351
    Hugh Jass says:

    Mnemosyne — Doesn’t your history lesson support my point? How can it be argued that the Constitution protected abortion/reproductive rights on behalf of women given the landscape that you just explained?

    Again, I’m not saying that abortion should be illegal; I really don’t know how I feel about that. But it really isn’t protected in the Constitution.

  352. 352
    John Cole says:

    In anger you are ignoring their real opinion

    I’m not sure how you could read this post and decide it was written in anger. I’m frustrated someone as bright as Andrew finds himself incapable of truly empathizing with these people, but I’m not angry at all.

    Several of you who post here are anti death penalty because sometimes someone innocent may be falsely executed. That doesn’t mean you would take them home with you. You think you owe them a fair chance is all. The separate conclusions come from separate definitions of when a human life begins.

    This makes no sense whatsoever. The choice is not going to be death penalty or they live with me, ever. The choice will be death penalty or lifetime incarceration, both of which, as a taxpayer, I have a stake in financially. And considering executions are often more expensive, it makes even more sense to oppose the death penalty.

  353. 353
    Hugh Jass says:

    John Cole — My guess is that Garden doesn’t think that your post was written in anger, but rather that some of the comments were angry.

    Also, with respect to Garden’s death penalty analogy, I think you’re shifting the goalposts. We’re not addressing whether abortion is cheaper than raising a disabled kid, but rather whether it’s the moral choice.

  354. 354
    Elie says:

    Great marathon thread with incredible posts..

    Adding some thoughts from my experience as a nurse providing first and second trimester pregnancy terminations…

    I acknowledge first, that while I support the right of a woman to chose, I do so with the humility of knowing that when life “starts” is complex. I can accept the reality therefore that what I support and believe as a responsible right of a woman and her partner is fraught with many moral and spiritual issues that we deal with in our own ways…

    While I understand the feelings of those who just cannot accept the willful termination of a pregnancy…I just cannot help but think that many with this point of view just have never looked into the face of a woman about to have this procedure. Nor do I think that they consider what the concrete reality is of a child with massive deformations, or a profoundly ill mother unable to sustain her own life with that of the fetus…

    I worked at a secular University hospital in a big city. We received all kinds of cases — most had nothing to do with pregnancy termination. However, the case of a particular woman sticks in my mind…

    She was send over by a local Catholic hospital to have her pregnancy of 20 wks terminated. She was sick — feverish and her fetus had expired. Her eyes and those of her husband were hollow with anxiety and anguish. Why did the catholic hospital send her to us? Because their obstetrician did not feel comfortable that he had the skill to safely handle the delivery of this fetus. You see, there is a technique to this that must be maintained to conduct safely.

    We took care of her and her husband. Though we could not heal their broken hearts, they could look forward perhaps to another pregnancy because she would be alive to try again. Without that, we would have had to try to induce her labor — which is very difficult to do that early in a pregnancy. During that time, her condition would probably deteriorate, forcing some really horrible choices for anyone present actually caring for her…

    There is no perfection in this life. We do the best we can with our imperfections to balance the multiple values that make life worth living. It is not always easy. I wish that we could achieve some ability to talk about this — without falling into our usual dichotomous extreme rhetoric.

    Today we found out that the young man who murdered Doctor Tiller was mentally ill. I fault those around him for the language and emotions that incited him to these type of actions but I also know that even that is not always straightforward.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts and to learn from yours…

  355. 355
    Ellid says:

    This is one of the best posts I’ve read on Dr. Tiller’s murder. I’d love to send you flowers, or at least a tub of catnip for Tunch.

  356. 356
    Jason says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    We’re not addressing whether abortion is cheaper than raising a disabled kid, but rather whether it’s the moral choice.

    We’re doing what now? I thought the discussion concerned the nature and language of Sullivan’s post – from which John (rightly, imho) wonders how you could reach a particular limit of compassion, after such compelling stories as Sullivan published, to say, “No, I won’t stand with you on this.” Which strikes me as a strange ethical choice, and I guess it could be cast in terms of a moral choice – but “the” moral choice? Dunno if you can get there from here.

  357. 357

    […] Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Time To Rethink Your Conscience: What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business. We’ve turned into a nation of busybodies and scolds, and people just need to back off. And that goes for the people opposed to and trying to make illegal Andrew’s marriage, for people like Andrew who sound like they want the weight of the law to come down on people making tragic medical decisions that lead to late-term abortions, for the nutjobs who thought they knew better than Michael Schiavo how to handle his horrible situation with his wife, to the lunatics screaming “murder” when we do stem cell research, and so on. […]

  358. 358
    Jason says:

    I shouldn’t speak for the OP. Reading John’s post again I think you can take any number of points from it.

  359. 359
    John Cole says:

    We’re not addressing whether abortion is cheaper than raising a disabled kid, but rather whether it’s the moral choice.

    No, it is explicitly immoral for you to force someone else to follow your decision in these devastating scenarios. How you can read some of those scenarios and say to yourself “Gee, the moral thing to do is make sure they go through as much hell as possible because the religion I worship says they have to.”

    It isn’t just immoral, it is sick. Get over yourself.

  360. 360
    Hugh Jass says:

    John Cole — I’m pretty surprised at the response. I really can’t say any more than I’ve said, and you (and many others here) are of course free to think that the people who feel otherwise are both immoral and sick.

  361. 361
    Ellid says:

    No, it is explicitly immoral for you to force someone else to follow your decision in these devastating scenarios. How you can read some of those scenarios and say to yourself “Gee, the moral thing to do is make sure they go through as much hell as possible because the religion I worship says they have to.” It isn’t just immoral, it is sick. Get over yourself.

    Think about what the average pregnant woman goes through in the last trimester: the good wishes, the belly-patting, the commiseration from other women, the questions about gender and names.

    Then imagine that you’re told late in the pregnancy that the baby is anencephalic. Think about having to tell all those kind, well-intentioned people that the baby isn’t going to live for more than a few minutes, that it has no brain. Or lying and doing your damnedest not to burst into tears. And looking at yourself in the mirror every single night as your body changes, as your breasts fill with milk for a baby that has no sucking reflex and your belly swells with a child who will never be able to breathe or speak, that has half a head, that may well rupture your womb in labor so that you’ll never have a living baby.

    Think about it. Really think about it. And then tell me that forcing a woman in that circumstance to continue being pregnant with a child that is, for all intents and purposes, dead, is moral.

    I dare you.

  362. 362
    John Cole says:

    @Hugh Jass: Yeah, sorry. You think you should have the right to tell other people what to do in horrifying situations, and I think you are out of your damned mind. And I’ll be completely consistent about this- should you every find yourself in this horrifying situation, and let’s all hope that never happens, I’m going to let you and your spouse make your own decisions.

    Why? Because that is the moral thing to do.

  363. 363
    latts says:

    free to think that the people who feel otherwise are both immoral and sick.

    I think it’s immoral and sick that anyone believes their feelings should be codified into law and used to bludgeon others, with no established public or individual interest beyond validating those feelings, it’s true. Or to put it another way, their feelings are one thing, but how they try to act on them is another entirely.

    Or, what our esteemed host said.

  364. 364
    TenguPhule says:

    The fact that they don’t all want to take home these children nor provide for them does not prove they aren’t sincere. It doesn’t make them saintly, but its just preventing what they think is murder.

    Concern for the fetus ends at birth.

    We know.

  365. 365
    Morbo says:

    Clearly Sullivan had more important issues to engage today than your points here. Like Hillary Clinton’s pantsuit.

  366. 366
    Debbie(aussie) says:

    Thank you so much John. I was very troubled/annoyed by this same comment yesterday.

  367. 367
    Drew says:

    I still don’t really understand why its so hard for people like Sullivan to realize that respecting human life is not, for nearly anyone, contradictory to sometimes having to end it.

  368. 368

    There is in this country a mistaken belief that the law is about morality, it is rather about social order and the decisions we have to make in order to live in proximity to each other. Don’t bother telling me about the morality of law unless you have some means of explaining the morality involved in backing it with guns and bars – in other words, force.

    Murder isn’t illegal because it is immoral, we do that all the time, to convicts, fetuses, enemy soldiers, collateral damage civilians, on and on; it is illegal because social order collapses if it is allowed. Frankly, fuck your morality Hugh Jass, it isn’t applicable and isn’t any of my concern. I won’t argue about 2 cells constituting life, it does, and so?

    You could make the case that the Constitution and BOR is about morality because it sets limits on government – it stops laws from being made or enforced and government supposedly from over-reaching into the individual’s arenas. You don’t like the assumption of privacy though the BOR goes to great lengths to protect it without spelling it out, you advocate the government seizure of a woman’s body because you don’t like abortion.

    You promote the social disorder of unwanted children and unviable babies because it offends your sense of morality. You promote the social disorder of you controlling another’s body in the name of morality. You are welcome to your morality, but it stops right at your body and mind. Society can determine its own morals, but enforcing them is another issue all together. Every attempt at it either fails miserably or creates a Taliban. I don’t care if you are sick and immoral or not, you area symptom of social disease and that’s plenty for me.

  369. 369
    Mr Furious says:

    I was astonished and then completely annoyed at Sullivan’s big late-term abortion wrap-up comments—I was actually fully expecting his position to have shifted.

    Over the last few days one of the best things that could come from this tragic murder was the stories of the heart-wrenching decisions faced by parents WHO ACTUALLY WANTED THEIR BABY but for a variety of horrific reasons were faced with the impossible choice of terminating their pregnancy.

    I thought that the sharing of these stories would go a long way to countering the bogus “late-term abortion-on-a-whim / last-minute change of heart” frame usually attached to the procedure.

    Some of the very best examples were posted by Sullivan himself, yet he can fail to actually absorb ANY of it and fall back to the same position, and then compound it with the contraception line?

    Possibly his worst moment since his 9/11 “fifth column” remarks.

  370. 370

    […] Two different exchanges on abortion and the murder of Dr. George Tiller: Hilzoy vs. Megan Mcardle ( Part I, Part II and Part III) and Andrew Sullivan vs. John Cole […]

  371. 371
    gwangung says:

    John Cole— I’m pretty surprised at the response.

    Well, why should you be? You’re clearly not thinking about it.

    Basically, you’re including late term abortions in all abortions. In late term abortions, therefore, you are forcing the parents to undergo tremendous emotional pain in forcing them to take a non viable baby to term. For a baby hat may or may not be viable, you are forcing the parents to go through tremendous emotional pain watching their child struggle through operation after operation just maintain a hold on life. And you are FORCING THE CHILD to undergo excrutiating pain, both from the operations and from the defects themselves (what? are you silly enough to think there are no consequences to these defects TO THE CHILD????). And if the operations only prolong the inevitable, you are forcing the parents to go through immense emotional pain AND great financial stress FOR MONTHS AND YEARS.

    I dunno. I think you’re getting off easy.

    (Pain, dude. Think of the pain).

  372. 372
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @gwangung: Hey! If you’re still around, I finally got the Asian comics book. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    @latts: Please continue to de-lurk. I like what you have to say.

    @Elie: This was beautifully stated. Thank you.

    Thank you all for a most thought-provoking blog entry.

  373. 373
    hamletta says:

    It’s too late for me to read all these comments, but God bless you, John Cole.

  374. 374
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    Doesn’t your history lesson support my point? How can it be argued that the Constitution protected abortion/reproductive rights on behalf of women given the landscape that you just explained?

    As long as you pretend that the Constitution has never been amended and is the exact same document it was in 1787 then, sure, you can claim that women have no right to privacy because they’re still chattel and not citizens. If you’re going to argue original intent, you also have to strip citizenship from every black American. After all, the Founders never intended for Africans to be full citizens. They kept trying to figure out ways to deport them back to Africa.

    And yet here we are today, with black people and women legal citizens and legally allowed to vote. Like we changed the document or something.

    If this is your new argument, I’m trying to figure out which amendment you think changed things so that abortion would suddenly become illegal when it had been legal before, the same way that the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments changed the status of black people from slaves to citizens. Which amendment says that a fetus is a legal person?

  375. 375
    iluvsummr says:

    Excellent post John! I knew there was a reason I kept coming back to this blog.

    @kay: Thanks for pointing this out – I wish more people would truly consider what the implications of “life begins at conception” are, if codified into law. Thinking about the kind of government intrusion into women’s lives that would be required to ensure the rights of a fetus over the rights of its mother sends a chill down my spine. Imagine murder charges for perceived negligence, confinement to force “adequate” nutrition, and waiting for fallopian tube rupture during ectopic pregnancies while hoping the mother’s life can still be saved after the fetus dies.

    @Wile E. Quixote: I read that four times. Absolutely beautiful.

  376. 376
    jcricket says:

    Some of the very best examples were posted by Sullivan himself, yet he can fail to actually absorb ANY of it and fall back to the same position, and then compound it with the contraception line?

    C’mon, he goes through all of that, doesn’t change his mind, and without skipping a beat, says the following:

    Why? Because our marriages are null and void for the federal government under DOMA. Because our very being is regarded as sub-human.

    For someone capable of getting so worked up about something impacting a tiny minority of the population (gays are, maybe, 5%?) that’s maybe been a political issue for 10 years, his attitudes on abortion are simply inexcusable.

    Let’s get this right: A gay foreigner to expect us to care that he can’t stay in the country because he has HIV, or can’t get married – not just care, but care enough to get outraged, and vote to change the law. But let’s not have actual empathy for the 1000s of women who’ve gone through the trauma and pain of having to choose a late-term abortion when presented with a severely damaged fetus – no need to fight for the rights of women to have that choice, or make sure that there are an adequate number of doctors to perform the procedure, or that those doctors aren’t terrorized by the right-wing and sympathizers.

    That it took the murder of Dr. Tiller for Andrew to even understand the circumstances behind a form of abortion he was so quick to vehemently oppose in the past is proof enough Sullivan’s not a deep thinker.

    But he’s a serious person, so we’re not supposed to call him on such utter, transparent, idiotic bullshit. Whatever.

  377. 377
    Hugh Jass says:

    Mnemosyne — The Constitution didn’t, and doesn’t, make abortion illegal. It simply doesn’t say that government can’t make it illegal.

    And to all who insist on reading my previous posts as somehow insisting that abortion be illegal, or that I want to control a woman’s body, or that I demand that deformed children be born only to die moments later, I think that you’re misreading what I wrote. My point was that I think that you should be able to understand that other people’s viewpoints, while different from and perhaps even repugnant to yours, are sincerely held in good-faith and are based on serious reasons.

    Instead, you all just want to call everyone who is “pro-life” names.

  378. 378
    markus says:

    While being generally pro-choice I disagree with the absolutist “it’s my/her body stance”. Roe or the current law on the matter is right in saying that it’s no longer up to the mother alone once the fetus is, say, 8 months old.
    I support a womans right to have the baby/fetus delivered in such instances, and of course the right to abortion if her (mental) health or that of the fetus is in concrete danger. However, if the state (or rather we as a society) ensure ready access to contraception, prenatal care, adoption and medical insurance for those deciding to have the baby anyway, then yes, we do get to tell the mother that the life of the viable fetus trumps her right to her own body. In fact, we have a duty to do so on behalf of the fetus that can’t yet express itself.
    Where we draw the line is a difficult and evolving matter we need an ongoing conversation about. I just wanted to speak out against the absolutist “mother’s/my body” stance, which is no less fundamentalistic in it’s disregard for the other life involved than the radical pro-life stance.

  379. 379
    mojitobaby says:

    @Hugh Jass

    States can’t discriminate against black people because the Constitution was amended to say so. There’s been no similar amendment regarding abortion. In fact, it took an amendment to permit women the right to vote; it’s fantasy to think that the Constitution guaranteed reproductive freedom. (I know that it’s been interpreted as much, and I’m not arguing that Roe v. Wade isn’t the law of the land. But it’s based on a fiction, whether or not you like that fact.)

    Hugh, your insistence on finding this right specifically spelled out is starting to smack of either obtuseness or disingenuousness.

    I suggest you amend your imperfect knowledge of the Constitution by checking out the 9th Amendment, which deals with unenumerated rights, specifically those innately natural laws such as the right to privacy, bodily integrity, the right to marry, earn a living, etc. that are deliberately not listed in the prior 8. The Framers didn’t intend them to be interpreted as being exhaustive of all basic and fundamental rights – they certainly saw you coming from a mile away.

    “Based on a fiction”? Like hell. Our inalienable and natural rights are innate, universally granted to us because we have a mind and are capable of thought. Which is why your claim there’s another “being” involved can’t stand – the human that exists NOW has the rights and therefore the decision, not an entity that cannot exist outside and independent of her. You want to deal in abstracts? Here ya go – it isn’t born, therefore it doesn’t exist yet in terms of its having rights.

    Roe v. Wade specifically dealt with the 9th Amendment and the clause providing for privacy under due process in the 14th Amendment. That means you get to keep your nose out of my business and what I do with my body, and you don’t get to stand between me and my doctor.

    Your argument that a separate Amendment was needed to allow women the vote is utterly irrelevant here – there’s no specific Amendment that allows blacks to hold political office, either, which surely places our current President in jeopardy.

  380. 380
    latts says:

    @asiangrrlMN: Thanks for the positive feedback– this is a topic that really gets me going, and I was able to follow the thread because I was in a seminar yesterday & managed to load it onto my phone ;) Things move so quickly around here that usually someone says what I would before I ever arrive.

    The false equivalence on this issue– many voters feel strongly about abortion, and there’s clearly something in there regardless of whether anyone other than the woman knows it, therefore society/the state may stake claims on that which is intangible and/or unknown– just drives me up the wall. Like there’s an unwritten rule of temporary eminent domain in which the state can demand use of a citizen’s body for a period of time, but it’s cool because she gets it back as soon as the project is done and most likely won’t have sustained too much damage or anything. Oh, and she shouldn’t have let the surveyors onsite (or whatever); didn’t she know that allowing access in the first place legally obligated her to a longer-term lease?

    Regarding ‘legitimate’ feelings/thoughts/opinions: Obama’s really doing the absolute maximum that anti-choicers should reasonably expect, which is patting them and telling them that yes, yes, it’s all terribly distressing and that we all understand how they feel… validation of feelings accomplished. Except they want more than validation; they want their feelings encoded in law and applied to others’ lives, and while Obama might not smack them down directly, I’m under no obligation to be nice and enable them further. Like John said way up there, it’s time to mind their own damned business, and IMO long past time for them to grow up. They of course know this and are lashing out, like particularly dangerous and intractable toddlers.

  381. 381
    Jason says:

    @Hugh Jass:

    My point was that I think that you should be able to understand that other people’s viewpoints, while different from and perhaps even repugnant to yours, are sincerely held in good-faith and are based on serious reasons.

    I think I’m able to understand that, but I also think that “good faith” is generally proven in the statement. If Dick Cheney thinks that marriage rights for gay couples should have “a shot,” that’s not necessarily taken as good or bad faith, but there’s no reason to take it in bad faith, certainly. It’s a pretty weak statement in itself. And for, say, Jonah Goldberg to celebrate the statement is not bad faith because he only wants liberal heads to explode – it’s only shallow.

    It is bad faith, however, when Goldberg reiterates a similarly shallow opposition to gay marriage seemingly only because that’s what his position at the NRO demands. cf. also the last paragraph of latts’ statement at 380, where I think he/she does a nice job of explaining the opposition as a desire for power cloaked by “moral” reasoning. I think it’s safe to assume that many of the people we’re responding to, Sullivan included, seem to have taken their support for some freedoms to a point where their lack of support for this issue is inconsistent, and they can just say “well I’m Catholic so I can’t go there.” Really? Why pick this topic as your little line in the sand? If Sullivan says so because he really believes it, an explanation of the inconsistency would aid the discussion. If he’s saying so just because he feels that, as a representative of a belief system, he must, then that is bad faith.

    At any rate, it seems like you’re arguing that we can’t reject the position without respecting the position-holder. And then you’re given a convenient handle on that when people start to treat you with a lack of respect. So there, again, that’s our fault, which conveniently proves what you’ve said all along. I’m not sure argument really works that way, though.

  382. 382
    kay says:

    @iluvsummr:

    I would like to approach it a different way. Courts suck at a lot of things, and they’re going to suck at enforcing anti-abortion laws. Trust me. They suck at family law, and everyone knows it. D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R. Ask anyone who has had the misfortune to encounter a family court.
    I would like pro-life people to approach this as a public health issue, like cigarette smoking, which isn’t illegal.
    Anti-smoking advocates made enormous gains in using facts and logic to convince people to quit smoking. They didn’t stand outside tobacco stores screaming at smokers, and they didn’t gun down tobacco company execs.
    I will not be convincing people not to have abortions, because I think it’s too private, but, then, I don’t weigh in on smoking either, so this is a suggestion I won’t have to practice.
    I know they’re not directly comparable, but that seems like a worthwhile and productive compromise for all interested parties. Both sides will hate it, so it must be fair.

  383. 383
    Bey says:

    I am an absolutist when it comes to my decisions about my own body. I am adamant that, as an adult, I choose what risks I expose myself to and decide for myself the direction of my life.

    Assuming from that I don’t care about the potential life involved is so very typical of the anti-choice crowd. The ones who refer to the woman as “the body”; the ones who believe just loads of women have whimsical late-term abortions – so they can go to rock concerts for chrissake; the ones who assume, because they have an opinion, that it should be enforced unilaterally. The ones who celebrate the killing of a man whose life’s work was helping people in horrific situations.

    I do care very much. In my own case, I aborted the week I came up positive on the test – probably about 6 weeks along. And the further along the pregnancy, the more uncomfortable I become with the idea of having an abortion. If I hadn’t known as early as I did, I may well have chosen another option. But the fact remains: that choice was mine alone to make. I can’t dictate my choice to another woman.

    And my heart breaks for the people who are faced with the decision to abort a wanted child.

  384. 384
    Mr Furious says:

    One of Sullivan’s readers tells her story and challenges Andrew to change his position. He cracks:

    I have to say I am beginning to believe that these abortions, given their excruciating moral and personal choices, may be the most defensible in context of all abortions. And yet they seem to be taking life in a more viscerally distressing way. I need time to think and rethink these things. I would not have without reading these extraordinary accounts.

  385. 385
    CMYK says:

    The American Taliban’s fantasy is to commandeer the bodies of women. In that twisted view, forced childbirth fits right in with the goal of punishing women for having sex, and murdering healthcare providers serves the purpose of violently threatening and diminishing women’s autonomy. They promise more violence, and I believe them.

    We need to hear from Homeland Security and the DOJ about their plans to monitor, track, investigate and prosecute these fundamentalist terror cells and provide ongoing federal security at clinics and doctor’s offices.

    And we need to curtail the public’s ability to inject itself into the private medical affairs of others. For instance, why on earth is it still legal to stalk, harass, intimidate and threaten law-abiding staff and patients who are exercising their right to provide and receive safe, legal, PRIVATE medical care? The HIPPA laws should be expanded to include protections for privacy outside of clinics.

    The call to find “common ground” is exposed for the laughably insulting goal it always was. As if the U.S was interested in finding common ground with other kinds of terrorists. But for some reason, when it comes to women’s private medical decisions, we’re told to find a way to agree with our tormentors and murderers. No thanks.

    Until we hear directly from the feds about their plans to shut down these domestic jihadist networks, we can conclude that the agenda to terrorize women and clinic staff for making legal, PRIVATE medical decisions will continue.

    It’s a daily assault and I want to know why it’s allowed and what’s being done to stop it.

  386. 386
    Miguelito "Son Cosas De La Vida" Brown says:

    You are really knocking them out of the park these days, JC. Rant on, brotha, rant on.

  387. 387

    […] What I couldn’t understand yesterday was how Andrew could hear all these tragic tales and not re-evaluate his position. These are deeply personal and horribly complex medical and moral issues that should be left to the mother and father and the doctor, not to a bunch of moral scolds, religious nuts, and outright busybodies waving placards on the street and screaming “murderers” while having absolutely no personal stake in the matter. It really should be none of their damned business. […]

  388. 388
    Ruckus says:

    @Wile E. Quixote:
    Beautiful, just beautiful

    Not only is the post great but the comments are too. This one should go in the blogger hall of fame.

  389. 389
    Wayne T says:

    Well said my friend. You wrote all the ideas that have been circulating in my head reading the Sullivan posts over the last few days.

    I love this blog more and more every day.

  390. 390
    TenguPhule says:

    then yes, we do get to tell the mother that the life of the viable fetus trumps her right to her own body.

    Uh no.

    If the fetus is viable but will kill the mother if allowed to continue (or mom has cancer and needs radiation treatments) then fuck you and your high horse, the mother makes her own choice.

  391. 391
    markus says:

    @TenguPhule
    You should read more closely before you jump down someone’s throat making a fool of yourself in the process.

    and of course the right to abortion if her (mental) health or that of the fetus is in concrete danger.

  392. 392
    markus says:

    second try
    @ThenguPhule
    I specifically mentioned “and of course the right to abortion if her (mental) health or that of the fetus is in concrete danger.” so your cirticism is misplaced and maybe you ought to step away from the keyboard till you’ve calmed down enough to process other people’s post in full instead of picking a sentence and gettting righteous about it.
    Look, it’s simple really: The absolutist “my/mother’s body” position requires, that the mother be allowed to have the fetus killed on a whim right up until the moment of birth. Which totally doesn’t resemble the bulk of real cases and motivations, but it’s what that position entails. Given the high stress state that pregnancy is, I don’t doubt, that the situation, while very rare, would eventually arise. And in that case, my answer is very clear: no, the arbitrary boundary of birth doesn’t give the mother the right to do what would be murder right after birth. Hence my rejection of the absolutist stance “my body, my right”. In turn, that means we have to balance interest and I’m glad we’re having an ongoing conversation about that.

  393. 393

    […] Just for fun, here is John Cole crushing Sullivan on abortion. […]

  394. 394
    Allan says:

    @Wile E. Quixote: If I weren’t already gay married, I would ask you to gay marry me.

    You have a growing fan club over at RumpRoast, Wile E.

  395. 395

    […] this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business. Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Time To Rethink Your Conscience   « Had they known, back then, that one of those women would soon show up eating […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business. Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Time To Rethink Your Conscience   « Had they known, back then, that one of those women would soon show up eating […]

  2. […] Just for fun, here is John Cole crushing Sullivan on abortion. […]

  3. […] What I couldn’t understand yesterday was how Andrew could hear all these tragic tales and not re-evaluate his position. These are deeply personal and horribly complex medical and moral issues that should be left to the mother and father and the doctor, not to a bunch of moral scolds, religious nuts, and outright busybodies waving placards on the street and screaming “murderers” while having absolutely no personal stake in the matter. It really should be none of their damned business. […]

  4. […] Two different exchanges on abortion and the murder of Dr. George Tiller: Hilzoy vs. Megan Mcardle ( Part I, Part II and Part III) and Andrew Sullivan vs. John Cole […]

  5. […] Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Time To Rethink Your Conscience: What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned business. We’ve turned into a nation of busybodies and scolds, and people just need to back off. And that goes for the people opposed to and trying to make illegal Andrew’s marriage, for people like Andrew who sound like they want the weight of the law to come down on people making tragic medical decisions that lead to late-term abortions, for the nutjobs who thought they knew better than Michael Schiavo how to handle his horrible situation with his wife, to the lunatics screaming “murder” when we do stem cell research, and so on. […]

  6. […] He Helped: Here’s a piece on his life. The stories of people who needed his services are very terrible and very personal. While I can’t blame any of these people for not wanting to discuss such […]

  7. […] much to add to this work of blogging art. I’m curious to see Andrew’s response. (If he chooses to do it, of course.) The […]

  8. […] That’s happened a lot with me when reading John Cole on Balloon-Juice. I was recently very annoyed by an Andrew Sullivan post about abortion where he said he could not in good conscience support abortion but really appreciates all the readers who have submitted horrific medical situations that caused them to get abortions. I mean the emails he got were so cut and dry that abortion was absolutely necessary in these cases that I felt he was being a real asshole pontificating about his conscience. Sure enough John Cole was annoyed too. And he articulates it in a very convincing post titled “Time to Rethink Your Conscience.” […]

  9. […] once in a while, I read a post I wish I had written. John  Cole’s piece on abortion is one of them.  He starts by quoting Andrew Sullivan who […]

  10. […] with John Cole: What this country really needs right now is a serious case of mind your own damned […]

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