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Swift
Written by James Randi   

bairdMy good friend Bill Baird – a prominent activist for civil rights – will be on ABC New's Internet program today – Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009 – on Nightline's Face Off show. It will be aired live from 12:30 - 1pm and then available at any time online after that.

The Pro-Choice League – Bill’s group – are raising money in order to go to the annual National Right to Life Committee Convention again this year.  Bill has attended more right-to-life conventions than most of the anti-abortion side for the past 35 years! They need to raise $2,500 to pay for the trip. The JREF and I, personally, are sending contributions to Bill, and we invite your participation.

Bill Baird is one of my personal heroes. He has sacrificed a lot to promote his cause, and I’ve worked with him since about 1968 or so, when he frequently appeared on my all-night radio show out of NYC. He’s one of the Really Good Guys.

Please try to help, folks. You can find donation information at The Pro-Choice League website, or you can send a check to:

Pro-Choice League

PO Box 323

Three Rivers, Ma.  01080

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written by Elexina, June 03, 2009
I saw Mr. Baird speak here in Rochester NY earlier this year and he was very moving and inspiring. I can't possibly thank him enough for all he's done on behalf of women and civil rights, but I can certainly manage a donation. Good for him!
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An odd topic
written by sibtrag, June 03, 2009
While I am generally pro-choice, I find this to be an odd topic for a blog which tries to draw a line between the rational and the irrational because I don't see how science or rational thought enters the debate.

Stripped of the religious trappings, the question is whether an entity which has the capability to become a person should be afforded the rights and privileges possessed by persons even if the mother would be harmed. From an earlier posting, most of us agree that a child who cannot make decisions should be given proper medical care (albeit "proper" is hard to define) even if that would violate their parents' beliefs. Such views on medical care for children are very close to the moderate pro-life position that those viable outside the womb should be given the chance to live.

This is a matter to be debated using philosophy, ethics and law, but I fail to see where science enters the equation except on the question of when an embryo is viable outside the womb (a point which moves earlier and earlier over time).
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Not entirely in the realm of skepticism
written by grieve, June 03, 2009
I agree with sibtrag. I would consider myself a skeptic as well, and hopefully others would as well. I have friends I consider to be skeptics, and we completely disagree on this topic. Our arguments on the topic range from ethics, policy, philosophy etc, and as far as I know never enter into woo-land.

Given that (admittedly small sample) I am not sure why this is presented as all skeptics are (or should be) pro-choice.

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Chairman
written by randi, June 03, 2009
To "sibtrag": In my opinion, science and/or rational thought can enter any debate. In this case, the designation of a fetus as a "child" is not valid. Also - again, in my personal opinion - science can pretty well define when a fetus becomes a conscious entity, which I look upon as the stage beyond which abortion should take on very serious import, and be employed only in very serious instances.

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odd topic?, Lowly rated comment [Show]
@randi
written by truth64, June 03, 2009
So your "personal opinion" is that you can judge when a "fetus becomes a conscience entity". What if your off by even a day? You can live with that? You truly are "Amazing"
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written by Elexina, June 03, 2009
No one should be allowed to instruct me what to do with my uterus, and I would not presume to tell anyone else what she should do with hers. I may not agree with late-term abortions as a rule, but it's a decision between the woman and a doctor. It is not my body and not my decision. However, the majority of late-term abortions are medically necessary and performed only when the life or health of the mother is at risk. To put the potential life of a fetus ahead of the actual life of the woman carrying it is absurd.
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@elexina
written by truth64, June 03, 2009
The majority are medically necessary. How about the rest? Just stats, I guess. Also, what you do with your uterus is your business, the child inside you just may have its own uterus, too.
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written by Elexina, June 03, 2009
You may consider it a child, in which case you ought not abort it. I consider it a fetus until it is born, which is the medical distinction.
Perhaps if women had better medical care and better access to contraceptives, late-term abortions would not be necessary. Perhaps if women were not misinformed and duped early in their pregnancies by "pregnancy crisis centers," late-term abortions would not be their only solution. Perhaps if the adoption and foster care systems in this country weren't so difficult and dreary, women would be more comfortable with that option. But forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth against her will, regardless of her situation, is a very disturbing position and I cannot support that.
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@elexina
written by truth64, June 03, 2009
But if there's nothing wrong with abortion, then why does EVERYONE want to reduce the number of them?
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Chairman
written by randi, June 03, 2009
Have no doubt about it. I consider belief in a deity to be the primary woo-woo item, the major paranormal belief. It outranks all other woo-woo. All others are variations of irrational ideas.

And who was speaking of late-term abortions? Not I. In fact I inveighed against them.

Do these commenters actually read the postings...?
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written by Elexina, June 03, 2009
@truth64
I didn't say there was nothing wrong with abortion. Preventative medicine is always better than reactive. Preventing pregnancy is always simpler and cheaper than undergoing a medical procedure. No surgery is without risks, but sometimes the surgeries are necessary and unavoidable. Most people, I'm sure, would rather have been able to prevent their procedures in the first place, regardless of what type.
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written by Elexina, June 03, 2009
Besides, Bill Baird does not campaign for abortion, late-term or otherwise. His campaign is for safe and effective birth control, and medically accurate sex education.
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@randi, Lowly rated comment [Show]
@elexina
written by truth64, June 03, 2009
You say Baird doesnt campaign for abortion? Please go to the Pro-Choice link Mr. Randi posted. I would beg to differ.
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written by Elexina, June 03, 2009
I'm sorry. Yes, his organization does support abortion rights. His main fight, however, has always been birth control specifically. That is the understanding I got from his lecture.
I believe Mr. Randi's initial post was supportive of Mr. Baird's civil rights activism and his support of reproductive freedom, though. It was not about late-term abortion at all.
Reproductive freedom and abortion, and whether a late-term abortion is practical or necessary, are certainly situations which invite science and rational thought into the discussion.
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written by Ken57, June 03, 2009
Why don't people take responsibility of their bodies before there are consequences. we are an instant gratification society. If I remember my statistics on this correctly, approximately 93% of abortions are about convenience. Most are not teenagers. All of the people I know who had an abortion regrets their decision. There are better alternatives to abortion, and yes your life may be inconvenienced for a while.
Deciding to end the potential of life based on a chemical analysis, brain function, heartbeat, still ends a life. Imagine for a moment that someone you know (sibling, friend) not being in your life because it would have been too inconvenient for them to be born.
It seems to me that what people can't see (unless it's something paranormal), they ignore and don't want to know. Out of sight/ out of mind; take out the trash. Fewer abortions are being performed because of the better resolutions of the scanning equipment today from just a few years ago.
Get responsible for you body before conception.
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@elexina
written by truth64, June 03, 2009
I would like to think that "science and rational thought" would be brought into the discussion more often. However, even as technology has advanced, and we are seeing more and more the early amazing development of the fetus, there is still no outcry from the far left over obvious moral violations. All in the name of "personal choice". I'm not baiting here, but I would like for you to answer a couple of questions if you dont mind.

Do you believe that at some point in fetal growth (conception to 9 moths), the fetus becomes a viable human being? And if so, would you risk being wrong and aborting a human being?
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written by Ken57, June 03, 2009
Define viable human being?
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@ken57
written by truth64, June 03, 2009
Per merriam webster;

Viable: having a reasonable chance of succeeding, example
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Lines
written by Amos M., June 03, 2009
"So late terms are off limits. That means that at some point you believe abortion becomes an atrocity."

Obviously. Everyone believes that there is a point where such a thing becomes an atrocity; if not, birth itself would never even be the limit, and people could take their walking, talking children in to be aborted. The real question is not and has never been whether abortion is wrong or not; sometimes it is definitely something to be considered only in extreme cases (Rape, endangerment of the mother's life, etc.) where a hard, lesser-of-two-evils decision must be made. The question is where to draw the line. To me, birth itself makes no sense: nothing magical or special happens during the birthing process that suddenly turns a lump of cells into a human. Conception makes even less sense. Sperm cells are naturally disposed of by our bodies, so if killing off reproductive cells is murder, all men commit murder on a regular basis just by being alive past puberty. Fertilized eggs do not possess consciousness, feet, toes, eyes, or anything of that nature: they are not humans any more than a sperm cell is. To me, the idea which makes the most sense is that we should view life symmetrically: life is considered over when certain types of brain function end, so it makes sense to consider it to have begun when the same brain function begins. As has already been stated, prevention of unwanted pregnancies in the first place is always best, but condoms break, pills are only 99.something percent effective, and mistakes happen. "Inconvenience" can ruin a woman's life, and during early pregnancy, that is far worse than the destruction of what's in her womb.
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written by Elexina, June 03, 2009
@truth64:
I believe that a fetus has the potential to be viable in late-term, yes. That is obvious from the so-called miracle survival of pre-term babies. But no, I do not define a fetus as a "human being" until it is living and breathing on its own without depending on the woman carrying it.
I cannot say what I would do personally as I have never needed an abortion. I know people who have, however, and while their decisions were difficult, the abortions ultimately made their lives better and allowed them to provide a better life for the children they would have later. And they do not regret their decision. I have read many cases where women have chosen abortion in one case and adoption in the other and have been FAR more disturbed and traumatized by the adoption option.

@Ken57: Fewer abortions are being performed because women (and men) have more access to health care and better birth control options today. There is no evidence that waiting periods or counseling or better resolution does anything other than delay abortions. Abortion rates go down because people are more responsible, not because they are scared of the image on the scanning equipment.

Responsibility is absolutely the key. Ideally, people should do everything they can to protect themselves against disease and pregnancy. People should be educated and informed and supplied with medically accurate information regarding their birth control options. As we all know, unwanted pregnancy rates go down as comprehensive sex ed goes up (and sex ed is NOT abstinence only education -that actually has the opposite effect). People should be responsible for themselves and their partners. But should an unwanted pregnancy occur and termination is desired, then the procedure should take place as soon as possible in the pregnancy.
But it isn't up to me. It is a medical procedure and remains a medical decision between the woman and her doctor.
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@AmosM
written by truth64, June 03, 2009
I agree on some level with your "brain function" theory. My problem is that we dont KNOW at what point this becomes an issue. How can we take such a chance on such an imporant issue?
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Abortion and Skepticism
written by grieve, June 03, 2009
Regardless of my personal beliefs about abortion, I still don't see how support for or against it belongs on a skeptical web site. Two competent skeptics can have access to all the data and still disagree. An open and civil discussion on abortion I feel would be more appropriate.

@Randi: I feel on this topic you are using the reach of your site to push a personal agenda. All within your rights of course, I just disagree with it. smilies/smiley.gif I do actually read your posts and follow-up comments, and appreciate you keeping the tone civil and informed.

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@elexina
written by truth64, June 03, 2009
Again, I'm not trying to esculate the debate but you mentioned the "miracle survival of pre-term babies." Its not so miraculous at all when you see how developed these fetuses actually are.
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written by Elexina, June 03, 2009
@truth64: I said the "so-called" miracle.
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@grieve
written by truth64, June 03, 2009
I agree with Grieve!! Even though it is Randi's site, and I'm just a guest ( a long time one at that), I think this topic should be given the boot. PLEASE Mr. Randi, discuss homeopathy, dowsing, UFO's and the like...but leave off the controversial, personal beliefs like abortion, evolution, etc.
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@elexina
written by truth64, June 03, 2009
"so called" was omitted for brevity, no intentional changes to your statement.
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written by Elexina, June 03, 2009
"So-called" changes the entire intent of the statement. These are not actually miracles. The babies survive because of medical interventions which enable them to survive. They are touted as miracles, but they are not (not that there are any miracles anyway), which is why I said "so-called."
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@elexina
written by truth64, June 03, 2009
That's not what I was inquiring from you. I was commenting on how you can say in one statement that a baby can be born premature yet still live and in the next sentence you state its a womans choice to abort an obviously advanced fetus. I'm confused on what you think constitutes actual murder (for lack of a better word)
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written by Ken57, June 03, 2009
@truth64
You wrote:
Per merriam webster;

Viable: having a reasonable chance of succeeding, example

Could this be applied outside the womb. Minutes, hours, or days? Why not? Life timers in prison perhaps?
I think this line of argument is slippery.

@elexina
I believe at one point in relatively recent history, submitting a wife to an insane asylum was a decision between a husband a family doctor. It might seem like an out from left field argument, but it did happen, doesn't mean it is right. Why is it that most abortions are performed are not teenagers; that takes a lot of air out of the education argument. Have you ever seen a picture of an aborted fetus? Are you a case of not wanting to know?
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Evolution?
written by grieve, June 03, 2009
@truth64: At the risk of having been trolled. I appreciate your support, but I don't think we agree on the evolution thing. Also, it seems wildly off topic.
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@grieve
written by truth64, June 03, 2009
I wasnt trying to change the subject. I was just stating that abortion and other highly personal beliefs should be for another site. Nothing else!
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written by Alan3354, June 03, 2009
When a man becomes pregnant, I'll be interested in their opinions on abortion.
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@alan3354
written by truth64, June 03, 2009
Al, you have said some laughable things before, but "When a man becomes pregnant, I'll be interested in their opinions on abortion" is your best (most absurd) yet. A man (father) has a say too, my friend.
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written by Alan3354, June 03, 2009
The decision on what grows inside us cannot be determined by the government. If we don't have control over what's inside our own bodies, there's not much left.

Don't kill the fetus, just have it evicted if you don't want to be the host, and good luck to it.
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written by Alan3354, June 03, 2009
A father can say whatever he wants, but he's not pregnant. All of us can voice our opinions, but it's the woman's decision what grows inside her.
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@truth64
written by Sadhatter, June 03, 2009
Truth, in my opinion your missing the point of the pro choice side.

Whether it is wrong to commit an abortion or not, the simple fact is that it is one of those many things that is easy but dangerous.

I mean even if we went with complete banning of abortions , a quick internet search would give any woman who wanted one hundreds of options for committing an abortion at home. Not to mention the instant money you would be putting in the pockets of criminals as abortion doctor would go from legitimate profession that is regulated, to a back alley coin toss more than likely funded by a larger criminal organization.

The abortion rate would more than likely not go down by a signifigant rate. ( i would be willing to admit a 10-20% margin seems fair. ) But the abortions that would be done would be being done with internet instructions, and methods ( that have been used for thousands of years. )ranging from imbiding mercury, to highly heated ceramic bowls, and other implements that i will choose not to mention. ( Do a quick google, if your strong of stomach. ).

Really all banning abortions would do is tell a woman " if you want to get rid of this baby, you can, but you better be willing to be disfigured, or die a rather painfull death." That dosn't seem like progress to me, that dosn't seem like a move forward in society , that seems like revenge.

A happy middle road to me seems to be those who want abortions have them, and those who don't want abortions can not have them.No one is going around demanding people have abortions, simply offering women a reasonably safe method to have them.

Sure it may suck, if a baby somehow has a fully devoloped human mind from the second the sperm hits the egg( not that i believe this, but even if it is true somehow it dosn't effect the issue itself). And sure it may suck that the "child" has no choice in the matter. But neither of these things change the fact that abortion is insanely easy to do in private. Unless you have some miracle solution to stop this practice , i think our current proceedures on abortion are if not perfect, workable in our current society.

Abortion is an emotionally charged issue, in which everyone has their own ( and even among in groups) varied opinion , but that does not mean that somehow the cold hard facts ( and i whole heartedly admit the facts are , in this case cold and hard. ) do not mean anything. And the cold hard facts are that it is impossible to police, let alone ban effectivly. And the only effect from said ban is to make the process more dangerous.
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What does Pro-life mean?
written by Sorcerer_154, June 03, 2009
I find this issue to always focus on the ethical when my problem with the 'pro-choice' movement has been legal. Overturning roe vs wade does /not/ mean passing a law to illegalize abortion federally, it means returning the issue to the states where a real debate can happen. Instead, the whole point of Roe vs Wade was precisely to prevent a debate in the first place. As a Conservative, I abhor misuse of the federal government to 'create' rights that do not exist in the constituion... whether for fetuses or for abortions. And as an Agnostic, I recognize that you don't have to be Christian to find the procedure morally unsound. If either side can get a bill through congress or an amendement, fair enough, otherwise the debate should be allowed to rage in the various states.
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written by truth64, June 03, 2009
Your stats are probably pretty close, but we dont legalize an act just because "people will do it anyway". That should not have any bearing on abortion.
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Do you want to talk about this more?
written by Tricky, June 03, 2009
The JREF Forum is a place to talk about all sorts of issues including the items here on SWIFT. It is a moderated forum so things like profanity and personal attacks are limited. Also, there are a much wider range of editing features.

Here is the thread that is discussing this blog entry.
http://forums.randi.org/showth...ost4778057
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written by Sorcerer_154, June 03, 2009
Truth,

While good laws should be passed even if there will be people breaking them, enforceability is a legitimate issue with a law. Science and Ethics lean quite heavily against alcohol consumption, but we know how that would work out. Again, this is why I favor returning the issue to the states because it is likely going to end up in a compromise. States who try to restrict abortions more will have to provide pro-choice women the means to control their pregnancies that they desire by some others means (and there are) or they will suffer a political fallout.

Though honestly, the idea of women knifing themselves and worse is more than a little bit extreme. Unless anyone is proposing a Federal Ban on all abortions, women who feel they cannot go through with pregnancy by any means will probably either fly to Canada, Europe or travel to a state that will let them have one... There will always be stupid people to supply pictures like the one sadhatter is referring to, and yes, that sort of thing still happens in Roe V Wade America.
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written by Alencon, June 03, 2009
I don't see how anyone can be so arrogant as to believe they are entitled to choose on a matter of health for someone else. Only the woman, with support from her family and other advisors, has the right to decide whether or not to choose abortion.

It seems very simple to me. This is not to say we shouldn't expend as much effort as feasible to insure few such decisions need to be made in the affirmative. As a start let's face up to the fact that "abstinence only" strategies don't work and provide real sex education to teenagers. Then let's establish a more streamlined adoption infrastructure so that more woman will choose to carry their child to term secure in the knowledge that the child will have a secure home.
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written by DrMatt, June 03, 2009
It's Randi's page, he can post what he wants to.
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There is a clear role for science in the abortion debate.
written by Skeptigirl, June 03, 2009
Regardless of where you stand on the ethics of abortion, there are other aspects in the same debate which should be addressed by scientific inquiry. If anything, it is even more important in a debate of moral issues that are as contentious as the abortion debate to make sure the scientific evidence is not distorted in order to support one's moral position. The intense propaganda campaign against abortion is rife with medical inaccuracies. Outright falsehoods about abortion are pronounced as facts and echoed by broadcast media and from pulpits around the world day after day.

And many religious groups are trying to make and enforce laws based on nothing more than a religious mandate against homosexuality but at the same time claiming not that it is just their religious belief, but that it is a "natural law" that all humans are heterosexual by nature and homosexual by choice. There is again a role for the JREF organization to keep these discussions honest. The scientific evidence is clear, nature does not dictate that all humans are heterosexual.

Many rational atheists would be much less interested in the religious debates if the people promoting certain religious tenets weren't distorting and lying about the science in order to support their irrational beliefs. This is just as true in the abortion and homosexual debates as it is in the evolution and age/origin of the Universe debates.
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Here's an example of a falsehood:
written by Skeptigirl, June 03, 2009
written by Sorcerer_154, June 03, 2009
...Overturning roe vs wade does /not/ mean passing a law to illegalize abortion federally, it means returning the issue to the states where a real debate can happen. Instead, the whole point of Roe vs Wade was precisely to prevent a debate in the first place. As a Conservative, I abhor misuse of the federal government to 'create' rights that do not exist in the constituion... whether for fetuses or for abortions. And as an Agnostic, I recognize that you don't have to be Christian to find the procedure morally unsound. If either side can get a bill through congress or an amendement, fair enough, otherwise the debate should be allowed to rage in the various states.
You are claiming you are more qualified to interpret the Roe v Wade decision and the Constitution than the Supreme Court. You echo an anti-abortion talking point about the Roe v Wade decision. However, the Constitution gives the Supreme Court the final say in interpreting the Constitution, not the public.

The second false claim here is that anti-abortion activists would be happy if abortion laws were made by the states rather than the federal government. Dr Tiller's murder after he was found to be practicing within the state laws of Kansas is evidence that your claim, it is about state's rights, is a red herring.
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Again, a place for rational vs irrational debate:
written by Skeptigirl, June 03, 2009
written by Ken57, June 03, 2009
... Have you ever seen a picture of an aborted fetus? Are you a case of not wanting to know?
This is an incredibly oversimplistic basis for deciding the abortion debate. Yes, by 12 weeks they look like skinny babies. Now go educate yourself on the hundreds of medical and social issues relevant to abortion.
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A medical clarification:
written by Skeptigirl, June 03, 2009
written by Amos M., June 03, 2009
"So late terms are off limits. That means that at some point you believe abortion becomes an atrocity."

Obviously. Everyone believes that there is a point where such a thing becomes an atrocity; if not, birth itself would never even be the limit, and people could take their walking, talking children in to be aborted.
This may seem logical, but there are medical circumstances where "viable" is relative. If late in a pregnancy it becomes apparent the fetus has a fatal anomaly, it makes no sense to force the mother to carry that baby to term just so it can die then rather than a couple months earlier.

And there are true medical emergencies where one must decide to sacrifice the fetus or risk losing both the mother and the fetus. There might not be the facilities available close enough by to save a neonate that had a chance with a few million dollars in an advanced neonatal unit, but little or no chance in a rural hospital with few resources.

And then there is fetal demise. Believe it or not, some physicians refuse to perform an abortion even after the fetus has died. Can you imagine being forced to carry a dead fetus to term because someone had a moral issue with abortion of any kind?

You just cannot write laws that amount to practicing medicine by the legislature.
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A correction of a frequently repeated lie:
written by Skeptigirl, June 03, 2009
written by truth64, June 03, 2009
You say Baird doesnt campaign for abortion? Please go to the Pro-Choice link Mr. Randi posted. I would beg to differ.
Pro-choice means just that, it does not mean pro-abortion.

People can be pro-choice for any number of reasons at least one of which is a belief that using the law to prevent abortions is the least effective means of doing so.
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written by Skeptigirl, June 03, 2009
Chairman
written by randi, June 03, 2009
Have no doubt about it. I consider belief in a deity to be the primary woo-woo item, the major paranormal belief. It outranks all other woo-woo. All others are variations of irrational ideas.
And that reason too. smilies/grin.gif
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@ Dr Matt
written by BillyJoe, June 04, 2009
It's Randi's page, he can post what he wants to.
...and if he posted about his day at the beach?
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Truth: Guilty again!
written by BillyJoe, June 04, 2009
"so called" was omitted for brevity, no intentional changes to your statement.
You have done this before, in fact twice that I am aware of. And, again, you completely changed the meaning of what was said by your so called "brevity". I don't say you do it deliberately - maybe you just misunderstand, maybe you read too quickly, or maybe you are a little too eager to find something to criticise in order to support your view.
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Part-time Sceptics.
written by BillyJoe, June 04, 2009
That is what I call those who want to exempt some particular topic from sceptical enquiry.
...or compartmentalised brains - sealed against cognitive dissonance.
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written by bosshog, June 04, 2009
@alencon
"I don't see how anyone can be so arrogant as to believe they are entitled to choose on a matter of health for someone else."
Some would say that the decision to abort does precisely that for the unborn.
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written by bosshog, June 04, 2009
In all seriousness, the abortion debate illustrates one reason that religion is so difficult to put behind us: there are questions of vital importance to the human race that CANNOT be adequately addressed by objective fact alone. There is and can never be a "science of ethics".
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written by bosshog, June 04, 2009
Consider: If a person kills a woman carrying a fetus in its first trimester he is charged with two counts of murder. But if the mother and her doctor kill only the fetus neither is charged.
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written by Alan3354, June 04, 2009
It's every person's decision what to allow to grow inside them, whether it's a fetus, a potato or any other parasite.

If a woman doesn't want a fetus inside her, she can have it removed. Good luck to it.

If the "father" is concerned about it, give it to him.
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written by BillyJoe, June 04, 2009
there are questions of vital importance to the human race that CANNOT be adequately addressed by objective fact alone.
But the objective scientific facts do have to be out there to at least guide the debate. And surely there is a greater role for science than just providing the objective facts.

There is and can never be a "science of ethics".
Some of us would beg to differ. smilies/wink.gif
So what guides and determines your ethics then?

BJ
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I'm confused...
written by BillyJoe, June 04, 2009
If a person kills a woman carrying a fetus in its first trimester he is charged with two counts of murder. But if the mother and her doctor kill only the fetus neither is charged.
Are you saying you disagree? Are you saying you cannot reconcile these two scenarios. Are you saying they are somehow in conflict?
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written by Alan3354, June 04, 2009
Laws are hardly a useful guide as to what makes sense.
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@Skeptigirl
written by grieve, June 04, 2009
If anything, it is even more important in a debate of moral issues that are as contentious as the abortion debate to make sure the scientific evidence is not distorted in order to support one's moral position.


I agree with this statement 100%, but it doesn't necessarily follow that all skeptics would then be for or against abortion. And that is really my point. The original post implies that skeptics would naturally be pro-choice. I have seen no evidence to support that.
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@DrMatt
written by grieve, June 04, 2009
It's Randi's page, he can post what he wants to.


I agree completely, and until he turns of commenting, and as long as I follow the Terms of Usage, I am free to comment on it.
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@Alencon
written by CasaRojo, June 04, 2009
"I don't see how anyone can be so arrogant as to believe they are entitled to choose on a matter of health for someone else. Only the woman, with support from her family and other advisors, has the right to decide whether or not to choose abortion.
It seems very simple to me."

My thoughts exactly. Of course the 'believers' think they know what's best for everyone to the point of totally trampling anyone and everyone's right to privacy. It's appalling and totally UN American.
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re: Skeptigirl
written by Sorcerer_154, June 04, 2009
Ummm, so somehow I am complicit with Tiller's murder even though I am not religious at all? Really, if anything is irrational that is. And as for the 'movement' I never claimed that my opinion was theirs... most of the pro-life movement is alas, quite interested in getting their views legislated from the Supreme Court bench. And no, it doesn't take a PHD in Law to realize that the Constitution is mum on abortion... honestly if you feel the argument is so strong against it, then why not get abortion passed into law the way it has been for years? I take a personal position on abortion that is only slightly more conservative than Randi's, but the major issue I have is the forcing your side of the debate down other people's throats through the entirely non-democratic Supreme court...

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written by Sorcerer_154, June 04, 2009
I also find the claim that the 'public' has to bow to the will of the Supreme court ludicrous. Yes, they have the right to rule on constitutionality but no that does not make them perfect nor impartial. I am sure all those with liberal leanings would be up in arms if it imagined a ruling against gay Marriage based upon the religious wording in the constitution. Or decided that somehow there is a ban against abortion based upon individual rights... and you would be right to be angry and demand such rulings be overturned.
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written by Alan3354, June 04, 2009
Let's all go to the chatroom.
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written by Phildonnia, June 04, 2009
These days, the designation of conception as the beginning of human life is principally argued from a religious basis. Accordingly, the village atheist rejects this idea for no other reason. But it is absolutely incorrect to say that religious dogma is the only basis for such a belief.

Let us grant, as many rationalists will, that the fact of conception is wholly arbitrary as the beginning of personhood. Is not the moment of birth just as arbitrary? What is the essence of personhood then? Genetic individuality? Separate existence? Viability? A beating heart? Psychological continuity? I myself would probably go with the last of these, which would put the beginning of life probably well before birth. Others would use different criteria and would find a different bright line. This can all be debated. But the point is that it is possible to rationally arrive at a conclusion that resembles the current religious dogma.

If I may suggest a moral foundation for atheists, I can think of no higher moral duty than to respect human life. If you believe that, then questions of abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment become just as pressing as they are for theists.

Someone said that this is Randi’s site, and he can blog about whatever he wants. If I may respectfully correct them: it is the JREF’s site, and whether you come here to agree or argue, it is generally assumed that the site represents views from a skeptical perspective. Since it endorses Randi’s own beliefs, which in no way necessarily proceed from a skeptical outlook, the blog is an imposition on skeptics who disagree. And for the religious individual that comes looking for trouble, it does nothing to dispel the popular myth that atheist = libertine communist baby-killing pornographer.
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re: Phildonnia
written by Sorcerer_154, June 04, 2009
Very well said. After all, if the JREF's mission is to educate and change minds, it will not attempt to sell liberalism and athiesm along with skepticism... just combating the woo is hard enough. And Rebublican/Conservative skeptics do exist as well as theistic conservatives... they should be embraced not told they are 'not skeptical enough' because of religious or political positions. In fact, they are most key to spreading skepticism to the parts of the population that most need it! Christians will listen much more openly to a Christian Skeptic as will Republicans to someone who isn't try to turn them into Democrats...
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correction
written by Sorcerer_154, June 04, 2009
correction, I meant theistic skeptics.
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written by BillyJoe, June 04, 2009
Someone said that this is Randi’s site
Dr Matt said that this is James Randi's page.
I have not seen anyone say it is his site.

and he can blog about whatever he wants.
I suppose he can but, I agree, he shouldn't. I don't want to read about his day at the beach. However I am happy to read his views on the abortion debate which is usually rife with lies and half-truths and religious dogma unsupportable with facts.

it is generally assumed that the site represents views from a skeptical perspective. Since it endorses Randi’s own beliefs, which in no way necessarily proceed from a skeptical outlook,
Agreed. His views on evolution, for example, were staggeringly ignorant.

the blog is an imposition on skeptics who disagree.
Not sure what you mean by an imposition. You don't have to agree. You can simply give your view and provide rationa support for that view. Sceptics are not sheep blindly following the shepherd (thugh I wonder sometimes).

And for the religious individual that comes looking for trouble, it does nothing to dispel the popular myth that atheist = libertine communist baby-killing pornographer.
I'm not sure where coummunist and pornographer come in here, but teh fanatically religious are always going to see "baby killing" in any pro-choice argument.

These days, the designation of conception as the beginning of human life is principally argued from a religious basis. Accordingly, the village atheist rejects this idea for no other reason. But it is absolutely incorrect to say that religious dogma is the only basis for such a belief.
Well, I think that is just a straw man. A separate human life begins when the DNA of the sperm and the ovum combine. There is absolutely no need to deny that to be pro-choice.

personhood? ...the point is that it is possible to rationally arrive at a conclusion that resembles the current religious dogma.
I would like to see an outline of that proposition. I don't think that postion is tenable.

BJ
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Is this a quiz?
written by tctheunbeliever, June 04, 2009
Here goes:

straw man argument
appeal to emotion
false dichotomy
taking quotes out of context
ad hominem attacks
I guess the argument from authority is just implied

So how'd I do?
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written by Skeptigirl, June 04, 2009
written by tctheunbeliever, June 04, 2009
straw man argument
appeal to emotion
false dichotomy
taking quotes out of context
ad hominem attacks
I guess the argument from authority is just implied

So how'd I do?
Depends on whose side you are referring to. smilies/wink.gif
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written by Skeptigirl, June 04, 2009
written by bosshog, June 04, 2009
In all seriousness, the abortion debate illustrates one reason that religion is so difficult to put behind us: there are questions of vital importance to the human race that CANNOT be adequately addressed by objective fact alone. There is and can never be a "science of ethics".


And you need a god belief to address this because?

BTW, I suggest you delve into the subject of the evolution of morality. It might surprise just how much science actually does have to say about ethics.
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written by Skeptigirl, June 04, 2009
written by bosshog, June 04, 2009
Consider: If a person kills a woman carrying a fetus in its first trimester he is charged with two counts of murder. But if the mother and her doctor kill only the fetus neither is charged.


Repeating an answer I posted in the forum discussion about the murder of Dr Tiller, if a person dies on the operating table it is not considered murder or even manslaughter. Even if the death was due to malpractice one isn't charged with a crime. So there is not the conflict you are claiming here in calling the death of a fetus at the hands of some kind of violence, murder, while the same death under different circumstances is not murder. We actually can consider motive and circumstances in defining what is and what is not murder.
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written by Skeptigirl, June 04, 2009
written by grieve, June 04, 2009
I agree with this statement 100%, but it doesn't necessarily follow that all skeptics would then be for or against abortion. And that is really my point. The original post implies that skeptics would naturally be pro-choice. I have seen no evidence to support that.
The OP says, "Bill Baird is one of my personal heroes." I believe you may have projected your conclusion into what was written.

I never said all skeptics were on any side of this issue. I merely said there is a place for the discussion within the JREF.
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written by Skeptigirl, June 04, 2009
written by Phildonnia, June 04, 2009....
If I may suggest a moral foundation for atheists, I can think of no higher moral duty than to respect human life. If you believe that, then questions of abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment become just as pressing as they are for theists.


"Pressing"? As in belonging in the discussions on the web site? I would agree.

Or "moral foundation" which is "respect for life" meaning you must agree that "respect" equals avoid death regardless of the circumstances. If that is what you meant, I do not agree.

I can't help thinking of a quote I heard a long time ago that has some relevance here when the claim is made that morality, especially Biblically directed morality, requires life be preserved at all costs. I cannot find the exact quote but it was something to the effect that such a philosophy was a Western idea and not necessarily a philosophy held in all cultures.

You don't have to believe in an afterlife to recognize the benefit of a peaceful death or the benefit of ending the existence of a fetus under a myriad of circumstances where such an outcome is morally preferable.
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written by Skeptigirl, June 04, 2009
written by Sorcerer_154, June 04, 2009
...After all, if the JREF's mission is to educate and change minds, it will not attempt to sell liberalism and athiesm along with skepticism... just combating the woo is hard enough. And Rebublican/Conservative skeptics do exist as well as theistic conservatives... they should be embraced not told they are 'not skeptical enough' because of religious or political positions. In fact, they are most key to spreading skepticism to the parts of the population that most need it! Christians will listen much more openly to a Christian Skeptic as will Republicans to someone who isn't try to turn them into Democrats..
[correction, I meant theistic skeptics.]
I suggest you may be putting your skepticism aside when it conflicts with beliefs you choose not to give up.

As for pretending science doesn't contradict god beliefs because to confront theists with the evidence creates barriers to communication, some skeptics hold this view. I don't.

And conservatism and liberalism are not the issues generally being addressed when the discussions of politics overlap issues relevant to skepticism. As I noted earlier, controversial subjects have to start with the facts before the philosophy can be honestly addressed. Unfortunately, that rarely occurs leaving lots of room for skeptical discussions in the political arena.
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written by Skeptigirl, June 04, 2009
written by Sorcerer_154, June 04, 2009
Ummm, so somehow I am complicit with Tiller's murder even though I am not religious at all? Really, if anything is irrational that is. And as for the 'movement' I never claimed that my opinion was theirs... most of the pro-life movement is alas, quite interested in getting their views legislated from the Supreme Court bench.
I think you are mixing up the discussion here with the one on the forum. I said the claim, if only the states were allowed to decide the abortion question for themselves, the abortion foes would be satisfied, is a red herring. Clearly they are not satisfied, law or no law.


And no, it doesn't take a PHD in Law to realize that the Constitution is mum on abortion... honestly if you feel the argument is so strong against it, then why not get abortion passed into law the way it has been for years? I take a personal position on abortion that is only slightly more conservative than Randi's, but the major issue I have is the forcing your side of the debate down other people's throats through the entirely non-democratic Supreme court...
You said: "Overturning roe vs wade does /not/ mean passing a law to illegalize abortion federally, it means returning the issue to the states where a real debate can happen." And you said: "I abhor misuse of the federal government to 'create' rights that do not exist in the constituion." And now you add, "the forcing your side of the debate down other people's throats through the entirely non-democratic Supreme court."

You can disagree with the Supreme Court all you want, but you cannot state that your interpretation of a ruling or of the Constitution is a fact.

written by Sorcerer_154, June 04, 2009
I also find the claim that the 'public' has to bow to the will of the Supreme court ludicrous. Yes, they have the right to rule on constitutionality but no that does not make them perfect nor impartial. I am sure all those with liberal leanings would be up in arms if it imagined a ruling against gay Marriage based upon the religious wording in the constitution. Or decided that somehow there is a ban against abortion based upon individual rights... and you would be right to be angry and demand such rulings be overturned.
Why not use an actual example? Many of us 'liberals' believe the Supreme Court decision appointing GW Bush President was an outrageous ruling. Did you rant and rave about that ruling?

Of course the court is not perfectly impartial. As for the public having to "bow to the will of the Supreme" Court being ludicrous, having individuals each determine the law for themselves is an untenable situation.

It's quite ironic that you would be annoyed at a law which allows individual choice because you feel it is not your choice that someone else chooses abortion. You do know how ironic that is, right?

Or if you claim to be pro-choice but you want the states to decide, then you are saying you are annoyed at a law which allows individual choice because you feel it is not your choice that the states cannot choose to prevent someone else from choosing abortion. What difference does it make if the federal or the state government denies people the individual freedom to make the choice about abortion for themselves?
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written by CasaRojo, June 05, 2009
Some legislation *must* be enacted at a federal level for obvious and not so obvious reasons. Abortion is one of those issues IMHO.
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Day at the beach
written by Steel Rat, June 05, 2009
I suppose he can but, I agree, he shouldn't. I don't want to read about his day at the beach.


What if his Day at the Beach included an overheard conversation about how "god" makes waves happen, or some such nonsense.

Or, if you're Caller X, you'd probably enjoy hearing how Randi had some smooth young boy rub him down with tanning oil...
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written by GeekGoddess, June 05, 2009
@truth64

Hmm, evolution is not a personal opinion.
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@GeekGoddess
written by Steel Rat, June 05, 2009
PLEASE don't get it started on that!!
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@skeptigirl
written by Sorcerer_154, June 05, 2009
Honestly, I find your opinion on this matter rather confusing. You say you found the ruling over GW outrageous, but tell me I have to suspend my opinion on the Roe vs Wade simply because... why exactly? Is it because you support that issue and not GW's 'appointment'? I won't even bother getting into that issue specifically...

You are right that I cannot, and should not be allowed to just... violate those rulings I disagree with. But, it is my constitutionally protected right to seek the overturning of rulings which I think the courts had no right to rule upon. That is the difference between most of the pro-choice movement and the tiller murderer... hate the former as much as you want but they are working inside the law. And that is the very essence of the problem with the Supreme court, there job is not to decide what is right or wrong, or even what should be low but what is constitutional or not. That is why they are so well insulated from public opinion, not to make it so democrats or republicans can force their chosen issues onto the country.

I think this 'opinion' of mine very well informed (meaning fact based), and you are welcome to debate that it is with me with me as long as you recognize that your words are an opinion too... I fail to see how I am suspending my skepticism with any of this as I have not invoked any religious or woo notions at all. I do agree that well devolped Skepticism leads to Athiesm or at least Agnosticism, but isn't a Christian trying to be Skeptical in his outlook better than one embracing all manner of woo? I certainly think so...



Sorry, I would talk on the forum but for some reason the system keeps rejecting me.
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Choosing for the fetus...
written by Alencon, June 05, 2009
@bosshog

"Some would say that the decision to abort does precisely that for the unborn."

Acknowledged. Unfortunately the "unborn" is in no position to decide so what gives you or anyone else the right to speak for it? You're assuming that the mother is not taking the consequences of the fetus into account? Balancing the welfare of the mother versus the unborn fetus is an undertaking that I know, as a mere male, would be beyond my capabilities. One can only hope that the expectant mother can find the strength and wisdom to do so.

Neither you, nor any priest or pastor, nor or any gaggle of politicians has the right to choose for her.
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@geekgoddess & @steelrat
written by truth64, June 05, 2009
Sorry geek, but evolution is like abortion. We all have the same evidence to inspect and then make a decision. Ironically, Darwinists are universally pro-abortion. They think we are merely animals and who cares if we choose to kill the most vunerable. It is survival of the fittest, right?
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WTF?
written by Skeptigirl, June 05, 2009
written by truth64, June 05, 2009
Ironically, Darwinists are universally pro-abortion. They think we are merely animals and who cares if we choose to kill the most vunerable. It is survival of the fittest, right?
Your imagination about the theory of evolution is running wild.
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written by Skeptigirl, June 05, 2009
written by Sorcerer_154, June 05, 2009
Honestly, I find your opinion on this matter rather confusing. You say you found the [Supreme Court] ruling over GW outrageous, but tell me I have to suspend my opinion on the Roe vs Wade simply because... why exactly? Is it because you support that issue and not GW's 'appointment'? I won't even bother getting into that issue specifically...
You keep putting words in my mouth I haven't spoken/written. I said, you are welcome to your opinion about the rulings of the Supreme Court and the Constitution. You are not correct to call those opinions, facts.

You are right that I cannot, and should not be allowed to just... violate those rulings I disagree with. But, it is my constitutionally protected right to seek the overturning of rulings which I think the courts had no right to rule upon.
I have no complaint with this. But I do have a beef with the anti-abortion promoters falsifying facts and using rhetoric that is intended, wholly or partially, to encourage violence and murder to achieve anti-abortion goals. I find anyone not speaking out against this rhetoric complicit in the Tiller murder.

That is the difference between most of the pro-choice movement and the tiller murderer... hate the former as much as you want but they are working inside the law.
And yet they praise the Tiller murder and refuse to condemn the constant barrage of hate speech that encourages these acts of terrorism. They claim to 'not agree' with the actions of the murderer while pretending to have no complicity. For God believers I'm surprised they think their God is that ignorant to believe they bear no responsibility by supporting the hate speech.

And that is the very essence of the problem with the Supreme court, there job is not to decide what is right or wrong, or even what should be low but what is constitutional or not.
Funny, and here the separation of powers and the wisdom of our Constitution is what we celebrate as resulting in the best democracy in the world.

I think this 'opinion' of mine very well informed (meaning fact based), and you are welcome to debate that it is with me with me as long as you recognize that your words are an opinion too... I fail to see how I am suspending my skepticism with any of this as I have not invoked any religious or woo notions at all. I do agree that well devolped Skepticism leads to Athiesm or at least Agnosticism, but isn't a Christian trying to be Skeptical in his outlook better than one embracing all manner of woo? I certainly think so...
I don't see the relevance here to this discussion. Is a skeptical Christian better than an unskeptical Christian? Probably.
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written by fuwafuwausagi, June 05, 2009
I have never had a problem with the death penalty nor necessarily with murders, I do think some crimes are justifiable. That being stated abortion, in my view, is unfortunately legal. And while it may be legal I do think that the fact that a woman has slain her own offspring is a material fact when you enter into a contractual, binding relationship such as marriage. I know I would not want to marry a woman who night "choose" to slay my child, nor would I feel comfortable entrusting the care of my child to a person with such a cavalier attitude toward life. So, given that abortion is legal, and given that a man should have a right to know if a woman he is considering for marriage has a demonstrated history of destroying the life she carries I propose that there should be a database that tracks for every abortion the name of the mother, and if given clearance by a woman a man may check and see how many if any abortions she has had so he may enter the contractual obligations of marriage informed. Note, I said the data would be collected but access is controlled by the woman. If she does no wish to reveal her abortion history to a man she can simply decline and he can make his relationship decisions based on that information or she can grant him access and allow him to make his decision that way. I truly feel this is only fair. I mention this because I do know of one case where a woman chose to have abortions of convenience, the first so she could fit in her grandmother's wedding dress (she married the man who would have been a father and never told him she aborted his child so she could wear the dress) and then two years later because they were going to Hawaii for a vacation and she did not want to be on the beach pregnant. In the end, after that second abortion she was never able to become pregnant again and to this day the guy thinks they simply could not have children(he dearly loves children and always wanted to be a father).

So I am of the opinion that a man considering marriage has the right to know the abortion history of his intended before entering the marriage.

Food for thought....
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written by BillyJoe, June 05, 2009
Sorry geek, but evolution is like abortion. We all have the same evidence to inspect and then make a decision.
The evidence for evolution is almost incontravertable. In a nut shell: it happened. There are some realtively minor disputes about the exact mechanisms about how evolution happened, but the vast majority of scientist are not in dispute about the fact of evolution.
There are always a few cranks however. smilies/wink.gif

Ironically, Darwinists are universally pro-abortion.
False.
There are prominent clerics who support darwinian evolution who definitely do not support abortion. The previous catholic pope supported Darwinian evolution.

They think we are merely animals and who cares if we choose to kill the most vunerable.
Where do I start?

The word "merely" is loaded. According to the definition of animals, we are animals. Certainly we are not plants.
That we are animals does not naturally lead to the conclusion that we will "choose to kill the most vunerable". Nor does it lead to the conclusion that we do not care about the killing of the most vulnerable.

It is survival of the fittest, right?
Wrong.

Evolution by means of natural selection is the process whereby life which is best adapted to the environment in which it finds itself tends to survive at the expense of life that is less well adapted.

But you cannot equate is with ought.

Genes create bodies and those bodies help them get into the next generation. But the selves, created within the brains of those bodies to assist this process, can, in certain subspecies of animals called Homo Sapiens sapiens, decide to use means (such as contraceptives) to prevent this from happening.
Richard Dawkins called this "overcoming the tyranny of the genes".

regards,
BJ
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@ fuwafuwausagi
written by BillyJoe, June 05, 2009
I have never had a problem with the death penalty nor necessarily with murders, I do think some crimes are justifiable. No problem with murder? Crimes are justifiable?
Crimes are never justifiable, otherwise they would not be crimes. Maybe you meant something else?

That being stated abortion, in my view, is unfortunately legal. And while it may be legal I do think that the fact that a woman has slain her own offspring is a material fact when you enter into a contractual, binding relationship such as marriage.
Tough word for an abortion.
Would you object if I called it a "termination of pregnancy"?

I know I would not want to marry a woman who night "choose" to slay my child, nor would I feel comfortable entrusting the care of my child to a person with such a cavalier attitude toward life.

There's that loaded word "slay" again. You don't think that perhaps you are being just a little cavalier, if not callous, towards a woman who has had to make a decision to "terminate her pregnancy" (if I may so bold as to use that phrase)?
And, on what basis can you conclude that a woman who has had an abortion necessarily cannot be trusted to look after children?

So, given that abortion is legal, and given that a man should have a right to know if a woman he is considering for marriage has a demonstrated history of destroying the life she carries
Is it "destroying the life that she carries" or is it "coming to a decision to terminate her pregnancy"

I propose that there should be a database that tracks for every abortion the name of the mother, and if given clearance by a woman a man may check and see how many if any abortions she has had so he may enter the contractual obligations of marriage informed. Note, I said the data would be collected but access is controlled by the woman.
This is a wholly unworkable solution. Good luck setting-up a database that is only able to be accessed by one person, where no one except those approved by this one person can gain access to the information.

I truly feel this is only fair.
I would call it unworkable, unduly labour and cost intensive, and unnecessary. And you cannot make decisions based on one isolated case (that you have detailed below) as you seem to have done.

I mention this because I do know of one case where a woman chose to have abortions of convenience, the first so she could fit in her grandmother's wedding dress (she married the man who would have been a father and never told him she aborted his child so she could wear the dress) and then two years later because they were going to Hawaii for a vacation and she did not want to be on the beach pregnant. In the end, after that second abortion she was never able to become pregnant again and to this day the guy thinks they simply could not have children(he dearly loves children and always wanted to be a father).
I'm sorry but find this story is not believable. You, a stranger, know all these facts about this woman, but her own husband is completely ignorant of them! I'm afraid I'm going to have to call you on this one. You have simply made this story up haven't you?

regards,
BJ
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@nonthinking64
written by CasaRojo, June 06, 2009
"Ironically, Darwinists are universally pro-abortion. They think we are merely animals and who cares if we choose to kill the most vunerable. It is survival of the fittest, right?"

Do you think before you say *anything*? Or are you really just a troll?
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written by fuwafuwausagi, June 06, 2009

I'm sorry but find this story is not believable. You, a stranger, know all these facts about this woman, but her own husband is completely ignorant of them! I'm afraid I'm going to have to call you on this one. You have simply made this story up haven't you?


Nope, it is true and I am not a stranger. I have known her for 28 years now, dated her at one time, and had an on again off again relationship with he sister for over 20 years. We spend a couple of weekends together every year, Superbowl, 4th of July etc.


Tough word for an abortion.
Would you object if I called it a "termination of pregnancy"?



You can call it what you want, but you need to acknowledge for the sake of truth and honesty that she has murdered, killed, terminated her own offspring/child.

Crimes are never justifiable, otherwise they would not be crimes. Maybe you meant something else?


No, you can have personal justification (in other words you made a choice, you weighed the consequences and made a decision, thus justifying your actions to yourself). I would hold up the guy who offed the abortion doctor as an example. I am sure he justified his actions with his own code of conduct. However it is a crime, he knew that going in, and yet he justified his actions. And I am sure there are many people out there who do think his crime was justifiable. That is what I meant. Justification as a perspective, (as women who have abortions justify their actions, or the guy who killed the abortion doctor) without reference to if it is a crime or not. The woman who had an abortion did not commit a crime, the man who killed the abortion doctor did, but I tis reasonable to assume both felt justified in the choices they made.


There's that loaded word "slay" again. You don't think that perhaps you are being just a little cavalier, if not callous, towards a woman who has had to make a decision to "terminate her pregnancy" (if I may so bold as to use that phrase)?

I am simply calling it was it is.


And, on what basis can you conclude that a woman who has had an abortion necessarily cannot be trusted to look after children?

I did not say that. I am saying it is a legitimate question. It may make some women better mothers. It also may call into question the overall character of the woman. If you are entering into a relationship where the woman has the legal right to terminate your offspring I believe it is a factor you have an implicit right to consider.

Is it "destroying the life that she carries" or is it "coming to a decision to terminate her pregnancy


It is eliminating, destroying, terminating the life or potential that she carries taking with it the genetic contribution of the father.


This is a wholly unworkable solution. Good luck setting-up a database that is only able to be accessed by one person, where no one except those approved by this one person can gain access to the information.


Obama is already trying to do it. All you need is a disclosure document that lists that one procedure and they can run a query. We have the technology. If our medical records are forced into this single system then it is very possible.


I would call it unworkable, unduly labour and cost intensive, and unnecessary. And you cannot make decisions based on one isolated case (that you have detailed below) as you seem to have done


We have the technology. And there is no additional labor involved. It is a simple query of a medical file. All procedures will be codified under a national health care system. However today it would be very laborious. I am looking to the future.

And you can forget about the example I gave, since you question it (it is true however). It has nothing to do with the substance of my argument. If I could delete that I would because it simply detracts from the argument. However it is the incident that got me to thinking about all of this some years ago.

The substance is, for many men (roughly ½ the population) the reason you enter marriage is for procreation. Often when marriage enters their mind the priorities shift and they start dating different types of women (or so they believe) and consider factors they did not consider before (women do the same thing). I am saying given the legal responsibilities of marriage and the generalized purpose (aka procreation, raising of children) it is reasonable for a man to request the facts about his would be spouse before entering into marriage. I am saying it is material for some men in regard to what they consider the primary purpose of marriage. Once again the woman could give or not give her consent. She would not be forced to disclose. But my position is the man has a right to know if his intended wife has aborted children in the past as it is relevant to the generalized concept and purpose of marriage.

Regards,
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written by randi, June 06, 2009
Very interesting discussion, indeed. Just so that you'll better understand my position, I was a premature birth, at 7 months, 2 days. My skull had not closed in when my mother first saw me. I survived with tubes down into my stomach, and luckily I was not able to accept oxygen - which was later found to induce mental retardation in preemies. I'm totally supportive of life, but I don't support the mothers's life being threatened... I introduced this subject primarily because Bill Baird is a good friend who has sacrificed a lot to get his message delivered. I hope that you folks will choose to support this Good Guy...

Thank you.
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written by BillyJoe, June 06, 2009
fuwafuwausagi,

Okay, when you said "I know of a case..." I was assuming - because you called it a "case" - that you were not imtimately involved with this person. My opologies.

However I still find it incredible that you know the intimate details about her two abortions and the exact reasons for them but her husband knows nothig at all. If she was so cavalier about having an abortion, why has she been so particular about not telling him about it? On the other hand, if his feelings about wanting to be a father is as deep as you say they are, then it would be better that he never finds out. After all, from his point of view, he has lost enough already.

But, haven't you wondered why he has stayed with her for all those years. We can never be quite sure that the details of her past are just as you have characterised them (and even you can never be sure that your charaterisation of them is correct). But, apart from that incident in her past, she must have some redeeming qualities for him to continue the relationship over such a long time. Do you think, from his otherwise intimate day to day knowledge of her over all those years, that he could characterise her as a "child killer/slayer/destroyer/murderer".

Perhaps she just does not see things the way you do. Perhaps, for her, the unseen foetus with whom she had not had any meaningful physical or social interaction was, because of that fact, no more to her than the children in Africa who die of hunger every day is to you and me. Because we have never seen that child and have never interacted with it and therefore do not know that child as a person, we do nothing to save its life. Yet, despite that, we are not intrinsically bad people. We still care for the living breathing people around us with whom we do interact. By the same token, the woman to whom you referred is probably not very different from us. Or, to generalise, women who have abortions (let's just stick with the accepted term shall we?) are mostly no different from women who don't. And, again keeping it general, most have never been in a situation where they have had to make the hard decision and we will never know how they would have decided.

for many men the reason you enter marriage is for procreation.
fuwafuwausagi, if you don't love your woman enough to marry her, without requiring the certainty of her being able to provide you with a child, without having to search her medical file to see if she has had a secret abortion, then I would say that you don't deserve her, regardless of whether or not she has had that abortion or not. It is not the be all and end all of a relationship.

No, you can have personal justification (in other words you made a choice, you weighed the consequences and made a decision, thus justifying your actions to yourself). I would hold up the guy who offed the abortion doctor as an example. I am sure he justified his actions with his own code of conduct. However it is a crime, he knew that going in, and yet he justified his actions. And I am sure there are many people out there who do think his crime was justifiable.
Why don't you say what YOU think?

It is not justifiable. If it is justifiable to kill a doctor who does abortions then it is justifiable to kill every woman who has an abortion. In other words for every foetus that is aborted, it would be justifiable to kill the two others.

On the one hand we have a life for sure, but a life that has never been consciousness, has never had personhood, has never had any experiences, has never interacted with any other living person, has never loved or been loved, and has never even known of it's own existence.
On the other hand we have two living breathing conscious human beings who probably have family and friends who love and cherish them and who in general are making difficult decisions in difficult circumstances or helping out people who have had to make these dificult decisions.

If you can see justification I would like to hear it.

regards,
BillyJoe
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written by BillyJoe, June 06, 2009
Mr Randi,

I was not able to accept oxygen - which was later found to induce mental retardation in preemies.

You have been fighting against god from the time of your birth it seems. smilies/grin.gif

regards,
BillyJoe
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written by fuwafuwausagi, June 06, 2009
BillyJoe:

Your last post seems far more filled with emotion than logic, perhaps you are too close to the issue to rationally discuss it. It seems you are desirous of taking this down the road of peripheral considerations rather than dealing with the substance of my post.

Once again it is very simple. Marriage is a contract that is very binding on the parties involved. It is not an agreement to be entered into without full consideration of the consequences. Once again, historically, marriage is primarily entered into for procreative purposes. Our family court system centers around what is good for the well being of the child rather than then what is just or right for the parties involved (for example in infidelity cases a man may be held financially responsible for the support of child that is not biologically his). Given this societal focus I remain of the opinion that a man has a right to ask for the accurate disclosure of the abortion history of a woman he is considering marrying because that disclosure may alter his opinion of the desirability of his potential mate. Once again recall under this scenario the man cannot force disclosure he can only ask that permission be granted to gain access to the information. He can make his choice based on the information provided or by the fact it is not provided. Given the nature of the contract being entered into, why are you so opposed to full disclosure?
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written by Skeptigirl, June 06, 2009
written by fuwafuwausagi, June 05, 2009
I have never had a problem with the death penalty nor necessarily with murders, I do think some crimes are justifiable.

What does this mean? You think some murders are OK but other murders are not in the world according to fuw? Let me guess, collateral damage resulting in the deaths of fetuses, infants and children in a war for control of oil resources is OK. That Bush couldn't be bothered intervening in over a hundred executions when the statistics of DNA exonerations have shown a fair percentage of those convictions would have included innocent men doesn't concern you. But when it comes to abortion, you can't think of a single circumstance that makes the choice reasonable.

Please correct me if I have your view wrong.

written by fuwafuwausagi
That being stated abortion, in my view, is unfortunately legal. And while it may be legal I do think that the fact that a woman has slain her own offspring is a material fact when you enter into a contractual, binding relationship such as marriage.
[snipped anecdote that even if remotely true is undoubtedly colored with personal anger. Without the other person's side of the story, I find it less than credible and completely irrelevant anyway.]
So I am of the opinion that a man considering marriage has the right to know the abortion history of his intended before entering the marriage.

Food for thought....

Marriages tend to fail if not based on trust and honesty. What does this have to do with the discussion here?

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written by Skeptigirl, June 06, 2009
written by fuwafuwausagi [replying to doubt the story is true]
Nope, it is true and I am not a stranger. I have known her for 28 years now, dated her at one time, and had an on again off again relationship with he sister for over 20 years. We spend a couple of weekends together every year, Superbowl, 4th of July etc.

So the story is based on gossip from the sister? Because you don't come across as the kind of person the woman herself would have confided in that she had 2 abortions for trivial reasons, nor do you sound like a guy who would keep such secrets from the husband.

But regardless, this mythical stereotype of women casually choosing abortion so a dress would fit is absolutely absurd. It reflects the ignorance of the anti-abortion crowd about the facts surrounding 99.9% of all abortions. So even if true, and you likely only have hearsay supporting it, the story is irrelevant to the discussion because it doesn't represent the vast majority of abortion decisions.

written by fuwafuwausagi
It also may call into question the overall character of the woman. If you are entering into a relationship where the woman has the legal right to terminate your offspring I believe it is a factor you have an implicit right to consider...

It is eliminating, destroying, terminating the life or potential that she carries taking with it the genetic contribution of the father.
Ahh! The crux of your issue. You, like some men, resent the fact you have no legal say in the decision. That discussion is a bit too far off topic to pursue here.

written by fuwafuwausagi
Obama is already trying to do it. All you need is a disclosure document that lists that one procedure and they can run a query. We have the technology. If our medical records are forced into this single system then it is very possible.
Dude, if you have to run a background check on the woman you are considering marrying, I suggest you won't have a successful marriage anyway. Walk away.

written by fuwafuwausagi
The substance is, for many men (roughly ½ the population) the reason you enter marriage is for procreation. Often when marriage enters their mind the priorities shift and they start dating different types of women (or so they believe) and consider factors they did not consider before (women do the same thing). I am saying given the legal responsibilities of marriage and the generalized purpose (aka procreation, raising of children) it is reasonable for a man to request the facts about his would be spouse before entering into marriage. I am saying it is material for some men in regard to what they consider the primary purpose of marriage. Once again the woman could give or not give her consent. She would not be forced to disclose. But my position is the man has a right to know if his intended wife has aborted children in the past as it is relevant to the generalized concept and purpose of marriage.

This is just creepy but perhaps it's because I am viewing it from my particular cultural perspective. This reflects the view that women are objects, first to be enjoyed and later to produce offspring.

From my cultural perspective one marries one's best friend who one is also the source of mutual love and affection. Sex is generally a big part of the relationship but in a few cases it isn't. Children may or may not be wanted, hopefully by mutual agreement on the matter.

Feeling the need to check on the pedigree of your betrothed because some girl you've dated relayed some nasty gossip about her sister is a strong indicator you don't understand the role love and trust play in a successful marriage, at least not in the culture of the country the Superbowl is played in.
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written by fuwafuwausagi, June 06, 2009
SkepticGirl:

All you specious remarks aside, do you believe a man has an implicit right, due to the nature of the marital relationship being entered into, to know the abortion history of his perspective partner?
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written by BillyJoe, June 06, 2009
fuwafuwausagi,

Your last post seems far more filled with emotion than logic...
That was intentionally so. smilies/wink.gif

My effort in that post was to try to get you to see this also as an emotional issue rather than just as a detached philosophical or legal argument.

I was trying to get you too see this from the woman's point of view, which you seem to be particularly detached from. As an example you said "my child" rather than "our child". And all that legal rigarmarole seems to be for the express purpose of protecting yourself from you intended bride.

But the logical argument is there as well, though you have chosen to ignore it.

...perhaps you are too close to the issue to rationally discuss it.
To make it clear, I have never had any personal involvement with abortion at any time in my entire life. So, let's put that to rest.

regards,
BillyJoe
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written by fuwafuwausagi, June 06, 2009
BillyJoe:

The detachment is intentional. This is not an emotion issue rather it is a logic issue. I am not ignoring your logic, I simply fail to find it. Can you present it in terse terms?

Regards
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written by BillyJoe, June 06, 2009
All you specious remarks aside

Well, I think you mean that her comments are full of emotion. And you want to detach yourself from all that nonsense, it's quite clear.

do you believe a man has an implicit right, due to the nature of the marital relationship being entered into, to know the abortion history of his perspective partner?
First of all, you would be surprised how few couples enter into marriage for the express purpose of procreation. So, this makes you question irrelevant to most of us.

Secondly, what do you mean by "implicit" right. There are no "implicit" rights. Rights are things that are granted to members of society by the society.

Thirdly, do I think it should be bestowed as a right by society. Well, let's just say, that any man who wants that right has entirely missed the point.

regards,
BillyJoe
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written by BillyJoe, June 06, 2009
fuwafuwausagi,

The detachment is intentional. This is not an emotion issue rather it is a logic issue.
Then you are intentionally avoiding the issue.

If you think a woman's decision to have an abortion, or to get married, does not involve emotion; if you think that attention to the emotional aspects in a decision about abortion, or marriage, is not warranted, then I don't know what else to say.

I wish you luck when, just before proposing to a woman, you ask her if she has had an abortion, followed immediately by a request for access to her medical records so that you can verify her claim. No doubt she'll also be signing a pre-nuptual agreement just before the marriage:

"I promise that if, within a reasonable period of time, I have been unable to provide my husband with his desired offspring, I will grant him a divorce so that he can engage someone else to fulfil his desire for procreation"

Okay, that is satire. smilies/wink.gif

I am not ignoring your logic, I simply fail to find it. Can you present it in terse terms?
That's rich.
(Terse enough for you?)

regards,
BillyJoe
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written by fuwafuwausagi, June 06, 2009
Well BillyJoe I will say you have convinced me that trying to have a rational conversation with a pro-choice woman is futile.

However I have succeeded in doing what I desired in getting my message out there and potentially triggering men to think about the circumstances under which they enter marriage. Men, do know the truth of my statements even if they are not willing to annunciate it to the current source of their carnal gratification. The seed has been planted, I am confident with the coming mandated changes to the health care system that men will realize this information is available and use that knowledge appropriately.

I wish you the best in your future endeavors and thank you for indulging me in this thread.

Regards,
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Big shock, fuwafuwausagi
written by BillyJoe, June 06, 2009
BillyJoe is not a woman! smilies/grin.gif
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written by fuwafuwausagi, June 06, 2009
BillyJoe is not a woman!

Really - yikes! Wow - sorry. Really...wow.

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@the Fu dood
written by CasaRojo, June 07, 2009
Misogynistic much?
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written by Skeptigirl, June 07, 2009
written by fuwafuwausagi, June 06, 2009
SkepticGirl:
All you specious remarks aside, do you believe a man has an implicit right, due to the nature of the marital relationship being entered into, to know the abortion history of his perspective partner?
"Specious", as in you cannot argue/debate/address the points I noted?

As for the implicit right question, clearly you don't get it. You speak of an issue that is solely between the two individuals pondering marriage. You asked for some legal right to run a background medical check on a potential partner. I said trust is how you address such an issue, not a search through confidential medical records.

I find the concept absurd on a number of levels. Besides the belief that such mistrust doesn't bode well for that marriage, I can think of a number of other things men (and maybe some women would ask of men) would like to add to their list of "right to know from a medical record". Is she a virgin? Has she ever had an STD? Has she ever given birth? Is she fertile? Has she ever been treated for mental illness or drug abuse?

To think these questions would be answered by some premarital 'right' to peruse a confidential medical record of one's betrothed is abhorrent, disgusting and ludicrous. No, I do not think anyone has the right to search through anyone else's confidential medical record except a provider treating the patient that has given permission to the provider to do so. You have no "right to know" anything about a betrothed except maybe that the other party is already married or they have some criminal history of marriage with the intent to steal from spouses or kill them for life insurance payoffs.

Two people contemplating marriage have the ability to set up any standards they want in regard to information they feel they need before going through with a marriage. People should, by all means, address each other's critical issues. In other words people should make sure each is ready for their commitment to the other. But some legal right to medical records? Definitely not.

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written by fuwafuwausagi, June 07, 2009
No I just see no point in arguing emotions. Despite the fact the current legal framework of marriage establishes and legislates that the primary concern in marriage is the protection of children it appears your position is that man entering into a marriage has no right to expect full disclosure of the historic actions a woman has taken in regard to her own offspring. So apparently the position is a life partner should accept the equivalent of a bunch of emotional woo-woo in place of readily available evidence. That is basically the same type of tactic that cold readers use to deceive their victims. Once again note I stated compliance would be voluntary not compulsory. If a woman chooses to be forthcoming about her past she can then volunteer the factual record by simply signing a consent form if not she does not have to – the woman retains control. The only surprise here is that the banner position in the JREF forum would be against disclosure.
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written by Skeptigirl, June 07, 2009
written by fuwafuwausagi, June 07, 2009
No I just see no point in arguing emotions.
What elevates a "right" above a belief? How one "feeks" about the nature of a specific belief. A sense of justice is just as much an emotion as a sense of pride is.

Despite the fact the current legal framework of marriage establishes and legislates that the primary concern in marriage is the protection of children...
Nonsense! The marriage contract involves merging two sets of financial accounts, property and children. Marriage as a 'procreation contract' is a manufactured argument by the anti-gay movement. It's hard to justify the anti-gay marriage position so they made that argument up. Think about it. Children are not even mentioned in the standard marriage vow. It's a pledge to each other.

...it appears your position is that man entering into a marriage has no right to expect full disclosure of the historic actions a woman has taken in regard to her own offspring. So apparently the position is a life partner should accept the equivalent of a bunch of emotional woo-woo in place of readily available evidence.
I pity your wife if you are married and your future wife if you are not yet married. You prefer proof to trust. Not that access to a medical record is foolproof anyway. You call trust between people about to be married, "emotional woo-woo." That is truly sad, ... and creepy.

That is basically the same type of tactic that cold readers use to deceive their victims. Once again note I stated compliance would be voluntary not compulsory. If a woman chooses to be forthcoming about her past she can then volunteer the factual record by simply signing a consent form if not she does not have to – the woman retains control. The only surprise here is that the banner position in the JREF forum would be against disclosure.
I hardly think my opinion represents the "banner position in the JREF forum." But I don't see a single post supporting your bizarre view here. I'd bet very few people anywhere (in modern cultures, anyway) support such a view.
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written by Skeptigirl, June 07, 2009
errata for the above, first line after the first quote: "How one "feels"
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written by BillyJoe, June 07, 2009
The surprise for you is that a sceptical or scientific outlook includes taking emotions into account. But you seem determined not to learn that lesson here.
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written by fuwafuwausagi, June 08, 2009
The surprise for you is that a sceptical or scientific outlook includes taking emotions into account. But you seem determined not to learn that lesson here.

My reply:

The surprise for you is that usual explanation for people’s inability to accurately assimilate reality is that emotions interfere leading to all sorts of forms of cognitive dissonance. More, emotions are the tool employed most readily by con men and those who wish to deceive you because emotions are so very effective at short circuiting the protective measures of logic.

The ethnocentrific view that love in an emotional context is somehow the correct view when approximately 60% of all marriages worldwide are arranged marriages and that view fueled by the growing population in the U.S. by second and third world immigration is ridiculous.

Lastly given the success that religious fundamentalist have had in promoting their views in the U.S. and worldwide while insulating themselves from cultural assimilation I would expect that some women might wish to consider the implications of a national health database where every procedure is codified and available for query.

As I said the discourse has been interesting...

Regards,
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written by Skeptigirl, June 08, 2009
written by fuwafuwausagi, June 08, 2009
The ethnocentrific view that love in an emotional context is somehow the correct view when approximately 60% of all marriages worldwide are arranged marriages and that view fueled by the growing population in the U.S. by second and third world immigration is ridiculous.
In the countries that are more economically successful, arranged marriages are not the norm. In the countries that women have achieved or are in the process of achieving equal rights as human beings, the economies of those countries provide better standards of living for everyone than countries which don't recognize women are human beings and not men's property.

Whether women's rights cause better economic outcomes or are the result of better economic outcomes remains to be seen. But to argue there is some virtue in the fact marriages are still arranged in backward countries and that the fact those countries still include over half the world's population is not an argument that resonates among most intelligent, educated people.

written by fuwafuwausagi, June 08, 2009
Lastly given the success that religious fundamentalist have had in promoting their views in the U.S. and worldwide while insulating themselves from cultural assimilation I would expect that some women might wish to consider the implications of a national health database where every procedure is codified and available for query.
Good luck. As an educated financially secure woman, I think your attitude reveals you are a creepy guy.

The fundamentalists you speak of have merely figured out the benefits of marketing science. It's a temporary success as evidenced by the 2008 political change in this country. You can only market a scam for so long. Eventually the truth revealed by the evidence wins out. That's what the historical record demonstrates so far. The Catholic church may have taken 400 years, but they did eventually apologize to Galileo, now didn't they?
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written by StaudtCJ, June 08, 2009
I hate to say this, but if we are going to class fetuses as human beings, then we must admit that these particular small humans are parasites. They literally steal the nutrients from another human being. They can cause bone density issues, tooth decay, malnutrition, and starvation of another human being. Just as I have the right to remove an adult human who is stealing my food and causing me physical damage from my vicinity, I must demand that same right in regards to a miniature version. One can give born children up for adoption. Very well, Anti-Abortion fanatic. You may remove the fetus from my person immediately, and do with it what you will. I'll sign the paperwork for the pre-term adoption.

It was mentioned by one poster that there was no person that this person knew that don't regret an abortion. I am here to state that I AM HERE because I was able to have treatment that was impossible while I was pregnant. Without this treatment the fetus would be just as dead, and I would have joined it. I chose between my life and someone else's. It was kill or be killed. I had an abortion in self-defense, and I will fight for the rest of my life to ensure that safe, effective birth control and abortions are available to those who need them. I refuse to designate what "need" is. That is not my call. Another person's body, morals, ethics, and choices are not my business. Making sure they have the opportunity to safeguard their body, morals, ethics, and choices *is*.
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written by BillyJoe, June 09, 2009
The surprise for you is that usual explanation for people’s inability to accurately assimilate reality is that emotions interfere leading to all sorts of forms of cognitive dissonance. More, emotions are the tool employed most readily by con men and those who wish to deceive you because emotions are so very effective at short circuiting the protective measures of logic.
And, again, the surprise for you is that there are actually positive emotions as well. These positive emotions can contribute to a positive outcome and, if ignored, can produce a suboptimal outcome or even a completely unsatisfactory outcome if only logic is considered.

The ethnocentrific view that love in an emotional context is somehow the correct view when approximately 60% of all marriages worldwide are arranged marriages and that view fueled by the growing population in the U.S. by second and third world immigration is ridiculous.
That sounds pretty close to the logical fallacy called an "argument from popularity". A view is never correct because the majority believe it to be true.

BJ



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@BillyJoe
written by grieve, June 09, 2009
That sounds pretty close to the logical fallacy called an "argument from popularity". A view is never correct because the majority believe it to be true.


I think your wording could be easily misconstrued. It sounds as if you are saying that a view the majority holds is never correct. I think what you may mean is the correctness of a view does not depend on the belief (or disbelief) of the majority.
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written by grieve, June 09, 2009
The OP says, "Bill Baird is one of my personal heroes." I believe you may have projected your conclusion into what was written.


This site is run by skeptics for skeptics. It is my understanding that anything posted on the main page is generally accepted by mainstream skeptics, and in my experience it generally has been. I have no problem with James Randi holding a set of beliefs different than mine, and quite frankly I would be disappointed if he didn't. The posting implies by the context of where it is posted as being the belief of the majority of skeptics, and honestly maybe it is. However, it doesn't automatically follow that being a skeptic will make one pro-choice or pro-life. And Randi's statement that Bill is his personal hero only strengthens my argument that this is a personal belief of Randi's. And again it is obviously his right to post it here, it is after all the "James Randi Educational Foundation".

I never said all skeptics were on any side of this issue. I merely said there is a place for the discussion within the JREF.


I never said you said that. I never even said Randi said that. I said it was strongly implied by being posted on the main page. I certainly agree there is a place for discussion for it here, and even stated that in an earlier posting.
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written by BillyJoe, June 09, 2009
I think your wording could be easily misconstrued. It sounds as if you are saying that a view the majority holds is never correct.
Regardless of which, what I said was correct.
And I do assume people can read. smilies/wink.gif


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written by grieve, June 09, 2009
Regardless of which, what I said was correct.


Fair enough.

And I do assume people can read.


Well when you assume... smilies/wink.gif
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written by Skeptigirl, June 09, 2009
written by grieve, June 09, 2009
This site is run by skeptics for skeptics. It is my understanding that anything posted on the main page is generally accepted by mainstream skeptics, and in my experience it generally has been. ... However, it doesn't automatically follow that being a skeptic will make one pro-choice or pro-life. And Randi's statement that Bill is his personal hero only strengthens my argument that this is a personal belief of Randi's. And again it is obviously his right to post it here, it is after all the "James Randi Educational Foundation"....

... I said it was strongly implied by being posted on the main page. ...
I have reread the OP several times and nowhere does it support this conclusion. Your conclusion is based on an assumption you are of course welcome to make, however, I would not make the same assumption. Randi went out of his way to say the post was personal rather than a purely skeptical topic. Later he reiterated that in a follow up post.

My original comments were addressing a broader sentiment expressed in some of the posts that political topics were by definition, not skeptical topics. That needing addressing since there is often a heavy dose of woo touted as supporting many political opinions, especially regarding the abortion issue.

But I'd like to address the issue you've touched on. That is, where does skepticism come in here (other than what I've already mentioned about taking the woo out of the supporting arguments)?

Many skeptics operate with a blind spot toward their personal moral and religious beliefs. I'm not claiming 'a true skeptic' can't do that. Randi notes god beliefs are not skeptical beliefs. I absolutely concur. However, many skeptics maintain their god beliefs by rationalizing reasons a bind spot is acceptable for X or Y.

By that same token there are bound to be skeptics with blind spots toward the abortion issue. There is no evidence I can think of to answer if abortion is right or wrong.

Regardless of the moral position one takes on abortion, the true skeptical position (True Scotsmen please hear me out), the anti-abortion position supported by the evidence is that laws do a poor job of regulating social change. The evidence supports the position that decreasing abortions is best accomplished by means other than making abortion illegal. To dogmatically stick to the 'pro-life' position that it is effective to harass people at abortion clinics, murder abortion providers and work to get Roe V Wade overturned by aggressive political actions is not an evidence supported position. Therefore, pro or con, there is an evidence supported position for which actions truly decrease abortions.

As for birth control, how skeptical could it possibly be to ban both abortion and birth control? Can anyone say a skeptic should be morally for the impossible?

I think you could at least argue the skeptical position regardless of where one stands on the abortion question is not the same position the mainstream pro-life crowd takes. A pro-life skeptic should be concerned with the evidence showing which means are effective for achieving one' s preferred moral position in society. The mainstream pro-life crowd is dogmatic about their desire for a legal solution and that is what makes it an unskeptical position.
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Dear James,
written by Legacy76, June 12, 2009
Love this site. I have been a reader for many years. I agree with you on just about everything. I am a skeptic and proud of it.

That said, I don't feel comfortable with abortion for contraceptive purposes. This has nothing to do with religious reasons. I am mildly surprised that other skeptics feel the same way.

We will agree to disagree, and I am still a loyal supporter.
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@ Legacy
written by BillyJoe, June 12, 2009
I am a skeptic and proud of it.
Really?

I agree with you on just about everything.
Really!

I don't feel comfortable with abortion for contraceptive purposes.
First up, abortion is not a contraceptive.
Secondly, since when does a proud sceptic decide an issue based on whether or not it "feels comfortable"?

We will agree to disagree
On the other hand, maybe you would like to offer actual reasons for your opinion.

BillyJoe
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Yes, really.
written by Legacy76, June 13, 2009
I can't properly go into the reasons for my personal views on abortion on an online forum. "Feels conmfortable" is a nuanced statement, but to go into detail would be time consuming. Lets just call it "ethical reasons". I'm not going to debate abortion online, since it is pointless and a waste of time. The point of my post was simply to inform Mr. Randi that I still support him and the JREF, even though we disagree on this matter.

BillyJoe, the first two beers are on me if we ever meet. I'm sure we would like each other if we ever met in real life by the fact that we are here posting on the JREF.
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written by BillyJoe, June 13, 2009
Fair enough, Legacy.

I just find it incredible that you agree with Randi on just about everything. That is a remarkable confluence, but I'm sure it's not because of Randi's "undue influence" or insufficient scepticism on your part. I am a big fan of Randi's as well for various reasons but one of those reasons is not that I agree with him on just about everything. On the abortion issue, on the other hand, we seem to be on track.

I would have been interested in your reasons in broad outline but I understand the problem of risking being dragged into a protracted debate whern your time is limited.

As for informing Randi of your continued support, my feeling is that he does not actually read the comments very often. I base this "feeeling" on the fact that he rarely corrects factual errors contained in his articles when pointed out to him in the comments section.

regards,
BillyJoe
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@skeptigirl
written by grieve, June 13, 2009
There is no evidence I can think of to answer if abortion is right or wrong.


That is kind of my point.

Many skeptics operate with a blind spot toward their personal moral and religious beliefs...


That is generally how all humans work. I think of skeptics as people striving to remove those blind spots, but they can often be deeply ingrained in the best of us. Those blind spots can even change depending on our current circumstances. It is really difficult to circumvent our lizard brain at times, and can be even more difficult to reject the beliefs of our loved ones.

Most of the rest of your statements are actually against arguments I never made, so I am not sure of your point there. But you do seem to be adamantly pro-choice, which is your right. Additionally it seems as if you have honed your pro-choice arguments in debates against people who are pro-choice for religious (or dogmatic) reasons. If I knew you better, I might hazard a guess that you have a blind spot for pro-choice.


I think you could at least argue the skeptical position regardless of where one stands on the abortion question is not the same position the mainstream pro-life crowd takes.


I generally agree with this.

A pro-life skeptic should be concerned with the evidence showing which means are effective for achieving one' s preferred moral position in society.


Agreed.

The mainstream pro-life crowd is dogmatic about their desire for a legal solution and that is what makes it an unskeptical position.


Well I think you are reaching a bit here. I would say the most vocal pro-life crowd, not the mainstream. Mainstream is synonymous with majority, and I don't think the majority of pro-lifers are standing around in front of abortion clinics causing trouble looking to murder doctors.
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