The Electric Commentary

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Bible On Abortion

I'm currently reading How To Read The Bible, by James Kugel. It is a religious studies book, answering all sorts of questions about modern biblical scholarship. Here is a section on abortion:

When men are fighting and one of them strikes a pregnant woman so that her offspring comes out, and there is no mishap, he (the one responsible) shall be fined in accordance with what her husband shall impose upon him, and it will be given over to adjudication. But if there is a mishap, then you shall give a life for a life (literally a soul for a soul), an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.

- Exod. 21:22-25


What happened here? The Bible seems to be describing two possible outcomes of an accident in which a man who was fighting with someone else ended up striking a pregnant woman by mistake. The first possible outcome - that the woman gives birth but "there is no mishap" - results in the man being fined; the second, where "there is a mishap," imposes the death penalty on the man.

At first glance it might seem that "there is no mishap" means that the mother and baby are fine. But no ancient interpreter read this passage that way. The reason was simple. Normally, in the case of an accident, if no harm resulted, then no fine would be due; if both mother and baby emerged without a scratch, why should the fighter be punished? He meant no harm to her and no harm had been caused. So something bad must have happened. Here is how the passage was translated in the third century BCE by the Jewish makers of the Septuagint, the earliest Greek translation of the Pentateuch:

If two men are fighting and a pregnant woman is truck in her belly, and her child comes out not fully formed, he shall pay a fine. As the woman's husband shall impose, he shall pay it with a valuation. But if it is fully formed, he shall give a soul for a soul. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burning for a burning, a wound for a wound, a stripe for a stripe.

- Septuagint, Exod. 21:22-25


This translation assumes that, no matter what, the accident described resulted in teh death of the fetus. Then what could the Bible have meant by distinguishing between a case in which "there is no mishap" and the one in which there is? It was referring, these translators concluded, to the state of development of the unborn child.


He also mentions a translation from the Vulgate of Jerome, which would become the approved translation of the Roman Catholic Church:

If men were fighting and someone struck a pregnant woman and she miscarried but she herself lived, he will be subject to a fine, as much as the woman's husband shall request and as the judge decree. If, however, her death shall follow, let him pay a soul for a soul, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burning for a burning, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.

- Vulgate, Exod. 21:22-25


According to this understanding, the "mishap" is the death of the mother. That is, in either scenario the fetus dies - apparently it does not matter in Jerome's interpretation whether the accident occurred in the first or the ninth month of pregnancy. The only thing that matters is whether or not the mother survives. Underlying this interpretation, therefore, must be the belief that, so long as a fetus is inside its mother, it is not a separate human being. Instead, the fetus is, as rabbinic interpreters (who had espoused the same approach as that adopted in the above translation) explained, a "limb of the mother" until its head emerges from the womb.


As you can see the "health and life of the mother" and the "viability test" are as ancient as abortion itself. Perhaps the judges in Roe v. Wade were divinely inspired.

Anyway, I've never understood why anyone's opinion on abortion should follow along religious lines. Religion barely speaks to the issue, and when it does, it can easily be argued that it falls on the "pro-choice" side.

The book is excellent, and raises all sorts of fascinating an counterintuitive points. I'll leave you with the review from Marginal Revolution:

Books that are so good I don't know what to say about them

How to Read The Bible, by James Kugel.

I'm not even going to give you a pithy excerpt or try to find the right adjectives. It is simply so, so, so good. If you wish to learn more, here is a NYT review.

32 Comments:

  • Anyway, I've never understood why anyone's opinion on abortion should follow along religious lines. Religion barely speaks to the issue, and when it does, it can easily be argued that it falls on the "pro-choice" side.

    I can never tell when you are joking, but in case you are serious here, let me try to help:

    Try your best to think like a religious person whose everyday activities and thoughts are viewed through a religious prism. Of course an issue of life, death, health and morals that is so intertwined with religion will be viewed through this prism. Abortion is all that and more.

    If you think like a religious person, you don't just shelve this prism. Atheists might think you can't think clearly on scientific issues then, but that is nonsense. The religious principles will factor into your work perhaps in its concerns or inspirational drive, but it need not distort the findings as many religions do.

    Think of it as a hunger for Truth. You can surely cast up examples of religious who have impeded scientific progress, but rarely is their acknowledgment of those the religious orders who strove for enlightenment.

    Catholics, for example, have a strong pro-life principles built into their teachings. ie/ sexuality is for procreation. You can argue that religious practices might support the pro-choice position, but others would counter that the concern for the soul/life potential of the unborn deserves legal recognition. Less if not fully formed, more if viable but either way to be acknowledged as we understand the scientific potentional of life.

    Scientifically, there's no denying that. Years ago, I think some of those ardently pro-choice (ie/ well-educated older women who've had abortions and now have regrets at the magnitude of that decision convinced themselves that it was just a blob of tissue -- like having an appendix removed, conveniently ignoring the elimination of their potential children, and grandchildren in their old age if they did not further conceive. That's pretty sad; to me, if you're old enough to be pregnant, you should be old enough to understand basic biological facts. *sigh*)

    I wrote a letter to the UW job site too, objecting to their soliciting egg donors for $5,000. That's not a job -- a one-time surgery. That's donating your potential child we should acknowledge, and though legal as it should be, the job board otherwise doesn't allow for the sale of things or products. Same as sperm donation is not a job, but selling something.

    I wonder how many of those college aged kids really get that though, the potential, or if they think of it more like selling urine or other bodily byproducts.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:24 PM  

  • Religion does not offer a solid answer on the subject, and therefore, there should be more diversity of opinion on the subject among the religious.

    My abortion stance remains that if you have no brain you are not human.

    One other calculation that should enter into the debate, but never does, is the children that would be lost if abortion were outlawed. Some women who have abortions go on to have kids later that they other wise would not have had. In some situations, the kid that survives will turn out better because the parent has had time to get it together.

    I have no idea what the numbers are, but I'll bet it's fairly common. It's a situation where you have to consider "the replacement player. Not every abortion takes away a "life." Sometimes it breaks even.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 12:11 AM  

  • One other calculation that should enter into the debate, but never does, is the children that would be lost if abortion were outlawed. Some women who have abortions go on to have kids later that they other wise would not have had. In some situations, the kid that survives will turn out better because the parent has had time to get it together.
    I don't think population statistics necessarily would bear this out. Plus, calculate in how many "replacement players" from later relationships would be added to the older, non-aborted half-sibling. Perhaps compare the black and white communities, where blacks have not culturally chosen the legal abortion procedure. Bigger families there, earlier reproduction rates. I think the statistics bear this out. Perhaps you are thinking only of white professional women in your calculations?

    It's a situation where you have to consider "the replacement player. Not every abortion takes away a "life." Sometimes it breaks even.
    I am pro-choice, btw, but your arguments seem simplistic. Add and drop a word, and this is true, no?
    Every abortion takes away a potential "life."

    Because uninterfered with, scientific study shows that those rapidly growing blobs of tissue would eventually form a brain and then a potential human life. Surely you're not denying that? Whether the mother later conceives has no bearing on that potential human life created when the sperm and egg united, and lost of of deliberate interference because of the patterns we know would ultimately unfold if not. So upon conception, that's a potential human life to religious and non-religious alike. Hence the need then to interfere from preventing development of its potential.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:54 AM  

  • "I don't think population statistics necessarily would bear this out."

    I think that they do. I remember a few years ago one of those fundamentalist preachers, Fallwell or Robertson maybe, said that if there were no abortion, we wouldn't be running out of troops to fight in Iraq. Someone did a study that showed that the net number of people wouldn't really change much because most women that have an abortion have another kid a few years later that they wouldn't have otherwise had. Sorry I don’t have a link to the study. If I find it I’ll provide it later. I think Paul is just saying that "potential" life is a bad place to draw the line because every abortion prevented would stop the replacement child from being born too. Although the replacement child is nothing but a thought -- it's not even a zygote -- but it could be considered a "potential life" under this definition. In other words, every abortion takes away a potential life, but so does every prevented abortion, depending on how you define it. And data supports this definition to some degree.

    Not that any of this has anything to do with the post. I think the post is just saying that, when making a decision, you shouldn't defer to a document that doesn't really address the topic of that decision.

    By Blogger JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe, at 8:46 AM  

  • Exactly. Couldn't have said it better myself.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 10:35 AM  

  • Someone did a study that showed that the net number of people wouldn't really change much because most women that have an abortion have another kid a few years later that they wouldn't have otherwise had. Sorry I don’t have a link to the study. If I find it I’ll provide it later. I think Paul is just saying that "potential" life is a bad place to draw the line because every abortion prevented would stop the replacement child from being born too.

    Oh, I understood what he was saying. My contention is, even without aborting the first one, chances are you'd have a second, or third. That's why I referenced populations that generally don't abort. Plus, abortions do contribute to the declining birth rate. Even if she has a child later, instead of 2 lives from 2 pregnancies, now you are 1 for two. Use other non-aborting populations as a control to compare? Perhaps she'd get pregnant again whether or not she aborted the first time around.

    Remember, it's not so theoretical as family "planning". As in let's abort this baby now, but later we will replace it with one to make a family. Pregnancies happen. If you don't abort, later the same woman might plan to become pregnant, or might find herself pregnant again. I don't think that many who bear the baby orignally tie their tubes so that they don't end up pregnant again with an "heir spare" rather than a replacement life.

    Check out the stats.

    Not that any of this has anything to do with the post. I think the post is just saying that, when making a decision, you shouldn't defer to a document that doesn't really address the topic of that decision.

    And I agree with your summary of what the post was saying. I was merely offering up how people who hold strong religious/life views that influence their daily lives and lifestyles might tell you that that book/document indeed does hold sway on their thinking on major issues such as abortion. It's not so simplistic as you would make it out to be. And it's not necessarily a bad thing either, whether that document influencing your daily thinking is something like the Constitutional principles, or the Good Book.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:10 PM  

  • I think Paul is just saying that "potential" life is a bad place to draw the line because every abortion prevented would stop the replacement child from being born too.

    This is the "fact" you are presenting as fact, but I don't see where you've made the case for it. It's not China where there is some oversight at stopping at one.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:11 PM  

  • In fact, the only way I can see your argument making sense is if you assume she aborts, and then conceives immediately during what would have been the aborted fetus' gestation to create the "replacement".

    Do most aborting women expect their circumstances to change that quickly that they turn around and conceive again? Maybe in miscarraiges, or abortions due to defects of the fetus, but otherwise I'm thinking the replacement baby is years down the road. Enough for her body to prepare to deliver potential life #2, if she doesn't abort the first.

    Women sometimes bear the child, then can find themselves pregnant as soon as a month later. So without the quick followup conception during the original gestation period, you're still one for 2 on the cycle.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:17 PM  

  • Although the replacement child is nothing but a thought -- it's not even a zygote -- but it could be considered a "potential life" under this definition.

    Again, simplistic. Not in reality.

    A thought is a just thought, nothing more. A sperm and egg are not necessarily a potential human life.

    When they unite, they are potential human life unless it is interferred with. That's science 101, and it's a shame you shy away from admitting that basic fact. No interference, it's undeniable that is a potential human life.

    Not true with a sperm here, and an egg here. Yes, there is the potential to conceive a potential human life, but until they are joined, there is no need for that outside interference to stop that potential life from developing, as there is after conception barring the body's own spontaneous aborting, ie/an unplanned miscarriage.

    I really wish more people could talk honestly about these facts, population statistics, and logical arguments. Thanks Paul.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:24 PM  

  • "Oh, I understood what he was saying. My contention is, even without aborting the first one, chances are you'd have a second, or third."

    See, I don't think this is true. I think that generally speaking, most of the time (but obviously not always) a family/couple/woman that wants two kids and aborts a pregnancy when they/she is young, will usually have two kids later in life. If that same woman does not abort the young oops pregnancy, she would probably just have one more later in life. And I don't think this kind of thinking is simplistic. It's purely rational, although I admit it's not very warm and fuzzy.

    "When they unite, they are potential human life unless it is interferred with."

    I'd say that they are potential human life only if interfered with. They willnever become a human if their mother doesn't interfere (i.e. eat, drink, sleep, refrain from doing a host of other things). Again, this kind of thinking isn't warm and fuzzy, and it's certainly not conventional wisdom, but in order for a sperm and an egg to become a human, a lot of help is needed from at least one other person.

    I think you're getting mad because this kind of economic thinking is unusual and can seem a little cold. But some people do think like that.

    I think you raise a lot of good points. They're mostly the typical abortion debate topics, and I've discussed them all at length many times, as I'm sure you have. I like the point Paul brought up here because it's a little different.

    By Blogger JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe, at 3:15 PM  

  • See, I don't think this is true. I think that generally speaking, most of the time (but obviously not always) a family/couple/woman that wants two kids and aborts a pregnancy when they/she is young, will usually have two kids later in life. If that same woman does not abort the young oops pregnancy, she would probably just have one more later in life. And I don't think this kind of thinking is simplistic. It's purely rational, although I admit it's not very warm and fuzzy.

    Unless you are talking about white professional women -- a limited group -- I just plain disagree that this is true. When you are young, or in those type of pre-planned or super micromanaged circles, you might plan your family that way. Otherwise, no. I think people take what they get. Multiple births, economic circumstances, "accidents", and family misfortunes all unfortunately contribute in reality to the shooting down of that pretty planning plan you had that you'd have exactly 2 children -- one boy, one girl, etc. etc.

    Unless you can come up with relevant figures -- and I really don't think you can -- and absent a one-child policy or other societal limiting regulations, most people just don't get to plan their families that way.

    As for the warm and fuzzy part, no worries. I suspected some were trying to shock with the "replacement" language, but please see my comments on the motorcycle/seatbelt cleanup thread. It's not discomforting to me your theories here, but implausible based on my knowledge of humans, women, and families. Again, in professional white circles, you might argue it always works that way, but I doubt it. I suspect you are basing that argument on anectotal evidence -- women who've had abortions, but gone on to later have a child and family.

    "When they unite, they are potential human life unless it is interferred with."

    I'd say that they are potential human life only if interfered with. They willnever become a human if their mother doesn't interfere (i.e. eat, drink, sleep, refrain from doing a host of other things).


    You say tomato, I say tomahto.

    If the host organism (the woman) does not deliberately bring about her own demise, and continues eating and sleeping and taking care of herself as she had done before the pregnancy, there is no doubt that short of miscarriage, a human baby will develop in her body and present itself in approximately 9 months for birth.

    It's basic animal nature. Even if she sees no doctor or receives no health care. Upon conception, there is defite potential for human life. Either you are pregnant or you are not.

    Again, I think you believe you have some offensive theories to present here. I am pro-choice because of my belief in personal autonomy in making all medical decisions, and believe the woman and her physicican should have the option of safely aborting a pregnancy, short of viability -- which is becoming shorter and shorter. I'm just asking you to really shock yourself by being more honest in your defense of abortions, while still acknowledging religious concerns, as I do.

    Upon conception, scientifically that is a potential human life short of interference or the body's natural abortion. Period. Let's not try to deny facts in order to make the next argument, as I did above and as Paul does in his determination that without a brain, the potential human life is not human yet. That's why all abortions although legal, should be taking seriously for what it is: the destruction of a unique potential human life. And if a woman later conceives again and bears, that is a separate issue and the original conception -- the earlier potential human life that was destroyed remains an unchanged fact.

    They're mostly the typical abortion debate topics, and I've discussed them all at length many times, as I'm sure you have.

    My hope is you come away with a less simplistic understanding of how others with religious beliefs necessarily view the issue differently, in a completely logical and thoughtful way. I'm not trying to change minds or argue that argument, but it should be acknowledged and respected for its logic and concern, I think.

    Again, I'd love to see some studies to back up the assertations that women who abort still bear as many children as they would without undergoing that procedure.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:45 PM  

  • Because if you want rational, and non warm and fuzzy, there it is:

    Abortion after conception is the destruction of a growing potential human life. Some, like me, can acknowledge that fact and still argue for the legality of the procedure.

    You don't seem to be there yet if you can't admit this. You seem to like the warm and fuzzy position of "oh, it's not really a growing and potential human life after conception. Not if... the mother stops eating! Not yet, maybe in a few months..."

    That kind of thinking reminds me of what goes on in the minds of those girls who hide their pregnancies, denying what is happening in their bodies, who later deliver and try to just dispose of the then-baby.

    To me, we have to educate and deny the tiptoeing around basic facts of nature that I think people engage in because they think it makes their pro-choice argument stronger. If we keep it legal, yet proceed with basic scientific knowledge, I'd guess we have less abortions even as it remains legal. And a larger population too -- with mothers keeping their earlier child, and then having more in their later adult lives when they are more ready as Paul points out.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:57 PM  

  • anonymous, you have interesting posts, but if you're going to post regularly, or more than once, out of courtesy please take a pseudonym. It would make things less confusing, even if it is a single letter. (Use the "other" option, you don't need a webpage.)

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 12:37 AM  

  • Anyway, as for the debate, I certainly don't see any reason to believe JJIJAWM's suggestion that women will have one more kid later on to replace the aborted one. Certainly some will, but there are certainly people who are not careful about sex and keep having kids. There are certainly arguments that once you've had a few kids you're less likely to have any more, but I don't think it can be proven either way because logically either outcome has supporting arguments and it comes down to not knowing enough about the individuals facing these situations. This is where economic arguments often don't give the answer. People vary in circumstances and rationality and you often don't have statistical information precise enough to predict their behaviors. In short, I don't think anyone can really say if JJIJAWM or anonymous is right on this.

    As for when life begins and intervening...

    Well, yes, a lot of "help" is needed for a fetus, but a child also needs a lot of "help" from someone, even if the child is not physically tied to the mother. The mother in presumably most cases is responsible for creating the circumstances and the dependency, just like you're legally responsible for someone's death if you hit them with your car and leave them to bleed to death by the side of the road. Or taking a 5 year old and leaving them by the side of the road. Your interfering logic would also justify child abandonment (which is different than adoption).

    Now, putting that aside, it is another issue whether the um "potential life" is something that deserves to have rights attached to it or when such rights attach.

    As for the Bible and all this, the Bible is very, very old. Just like the less old Constitution, things have to be figured out that aren't literally in there. Now I know people go around taking the Bible literally, but we also have strict constructionists of the Constitution.

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 12:56 AM  

  • "Unless you can come up with relevant figures -- and I really don't think you can -- and absent a one-child policy or other societal limiting regulations, most people just don't get to plan their families that way."

    The results of the study I was referring to do has not yet been published (I don't think). It was conducted by Steven Levitt, John Donohue and Jeff Grogger. Here is Levitt talking about it:

    "While it is true there have been many millions of abortions (although according to the official statistics more like 35 million than 45 million), even if those abortions had not occurred, there would not be that many more Americans today. The reason is that the primary impact of an abortion is not to reduce a woman’s lifetime number of children born, but rather, to simply shift the timing of a woman’s fertility from early in life to later in life. Based on a paper by John Donohue, Jeff Grogger, and I which will be out in a few weeks, I would estimate that each teenage abortion reduces lifetime babies born to the mother by maybe one-tenth of a child, or possibly even less."

    Link: http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/03/13/zell-miller-is-wrong-but-he-isnt-crazy/

    Now, I'm certainly not saying that this study is perfect or the last word on the topic. I'm just saying that it's something to talk about.

    "If the host organism (the woman) does not deliberately bring about her own demise, and continues eating and sleeping and taking care of herself as she had done before the pregnancy, there is no doubt that short of miscarriage, a human baby will develop in her body and present itself in approximately 9 months for birth."

    You talk about miscarriages as if they are, by nature, very rare. It may seem like that in an era of modern health and medicine, but pregnancy is a pretty big ordeal for a woman. The woman has to do a lot more than just hang around and wait in order to carry it to term.

    "I'm just asking you to really shock yourself by being more honest in your defense of abortions, while still acknowledging religious concerns, as I do."

    Get over yourself. My position is based on the same logic as yours. All this replacement child stuff and other possible points to define life is just additional. Just something to think about. Religious concerns, in my opinion, are stupid. Therefore, they do not weigh heavily on my decision making. Because in my opinion, a woman's freedom carries greater weight, I come out on the pro-choice side.

    By Blogger JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe, at 4:28 PM  

  • Religious concerns, in my opinion, are stupid.

    Well since you're not a woman, I suggest you respectfully bow out here. Because if you honestly don't see the significance of religious thought in this country influencing such social issues as abortion, or gay marriage for that matter, then you are ... well, stupid.

    It's a bit more complex then you'd have it be, and you can't just wish away things like religious opposition to abortion. When you're ready to grow up and acknowledge its significance, I'd venture you'd be a better pro-choice advocate. Right now, you're just stuffing your fingers in your ears to the aspects of American society you obviously don't want to hear.

    All the best.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:57 PM  

  • I think JIJAWM was saying that his personal opinion is not influenced at all by religious concerns. I do not think JIJAWM was saying it doesn't play a role, just that he doesn't think they should.

    Thanks for the link JIJAWM, it does have some support although I haven't seen the paper so I can't say whether I buy it yet.

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 10:19 PM  

  • That does sound like an interesting book. There are all sorts of weird rules in Exodus. The ones which are especially creepy are how much is to be paid for killing a slave, and that a woman who grabs a man's genitals while he is fighting with her husband is to be stoned.

    With regard to abortion though, those passages don't seem to apply. They seem to speak more to what sorts of reckless behavior of a third party that results in harm is punishible. None of the translations seem to address what a mother or father may or may not do to the fetus. I guess they are instructive because they sort of touch on the whole issue.

    The main argument against abortion espoused by the religious seems to be a very simple one though. It's pretty much: Thous shalt not kill. A fertilized egg is a life. Therefore, thou shalt not kill (or abort) anything (except maybe to save a mother's life.)

    By Anonymous Bill, at 10:27 PM  

  • Anon,
    I tried to be very clear, but you apparently didn't understand me. I didn't say that religious concerns are not significant. I said that, in my opinion, they are stupid. What that means is that when I’m weighing all of the arguments for and against the freedom to have an abortion, religious arguments have no effect on my opinion. Obviously they have a strong effect on other people. If they didn’t, this wouldn’t be an issue at all.

    By Blogger JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe, at 6:06 AM  

  • And I'm suggesting that whether you hold them or not, merely dismissing religious beliefs as "stupid" on this issues guarantees your input will have no effect on the outcome.

    Like it or not, face the numbers: If you want to influence the abortion discussion in any meaningful way, you have to grapple with the influence of religious Americans, or else just surrender to their superior numbers.

    Luckily, some of us women are up to that. Voices like yours help a man vent perhaps, but truly do nothing to help women.

    You're like a screamy child whose mother doesn't give in to his tantrum, who thinks he can win her to do his bidding by just screaming louder in his fit. Or else you're like the young prenant girl who just wants to deny the whole cycle of nature thing, and if she ignores it long enough, surely her stupid problem will just dry up and disappear. Maybe young fathers-to-be can just pretend away a problem like that, but the young woman eventually has to accept the reality of the predicament and go from there. Because once his sperm meets that egg inside of her, she'd better start recognizing a.s.a.p. that there's a good chance it will grow and eventually will develop a brain too, and begin thinking more maturely about her predicament right then. Or else she can dismiss it as stupid, think no further, and thus be acted on rather than influencing her future course herself.

    Pro-choice women, unlike men such as yourself, for the most part are unwilling to surrender such power to the "stupid" religious people who have proven -- for whatever reason -- that this issue is important to them, and they will have staying power on it long after the extra-curricular points debaters have moved on to more juicy topics for entertainment and sport.

    All the best.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:39 AM  

  • "You're like a screamy child whose mother doesn't give in to his tantrum, who thinks he can win her to do his bidding by just screaming louder in his fit."

    After reading this thread, this seems like a pretty ironic statement.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:04 AM  

  • Read it again?
    This time without preconceptions.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:29 AM  

  • Is that more irony?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:38 AM  

  • You need me to parse? Always expecting someone else to do your work these days...

    You talk about miscarriages as if they are, by nature, very rare. It may seem like that in an era of modern health and medicine, but pregnancy is a pretty big ordeal for a woman. The woman has to do a lot more than just hang around and wait in order to carry it to term.

    I don't want to shock you with history or science compared to your middle-class American existence, but for centuries women have been bearing children naturally without guidance from the medical community or any help outside the family and community.

    And this is an example of poor reading skills. Nowhere did I comment on the quantity of natural bodily abortions -- aka miscarriages. I'm not arguing that these natural abortions should be mourned for the potential human life, but of course, naturally they are by many who often recognize the reality. Sometimes, it goes unnoticed early in the pregnancy.

    Short of miscarriage though, the embryo continues developing outside. This is what I originally wrote, the truth of which you seem to be quibbling with:

    "If the host organism (the woman) does not deliberately bring about her own demise, and continues eating and sleeping and taking care of herself as she had done before the pregnancy, there is no doubt that short of miscarriage, a human baby will develop in her body and present itself in approximately 9 months for birth."

    All the best.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:48 AM  

  • Short of miscarriage though, the embryo continues developing outside of any interference.

    See that's why you need not concern yourself with legislating miscarriages. Like pregnancies, they happen. After conception though, that's when you have the need for interference if your goal is to halt the rapidly growing potential human life.

    It's not like you have to eat certain foods or see the doctor X many times to trigger the development of the brain. Without interference, it's going to happen. For those with faith, and without. Science 101, warm and fuzzy though it may not be.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:53 AM  

  • All The Best, are you in high school?

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 9:41 AM  

  • "You're like a screamy child whose mother doesn't give in to his tantrum, who thinks he can win her to do his bidding by just screaming louder in his fit."

    It's an ironic statement because it is you that continues to scream while Paul doesn't respond to your off-point tantrums.

    "This time without preconceptions."

    This one is ironic because you are discussing abortion with preconcieved ideas of what the issues are (i.e. Morals versus reproductive freedom) even though the post is about the actual bible passage that the anti-abortion stance of Christians is based on, not the other issues you keep bringing up. So if you read the post without your preconceptions, you'd be discussing how to interpret the bible, not how it stacks up against a woman's right to choose.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:20 AM  

  • Why do you think Paul is needed to jump in at this point?

    His basic question was answered early in the thread:

    "Anyway, I've never understood why anyone's opinion on abortion should follow along religious lines."

    Still Paul, it beats swiping another person's cleverness, as in: "No, I'm not the screamy baby. You're the screamy baby who won't let me have the final word in telling you which box you get to belong in."

    Keep reading, kids. You'll need to get a lot better than this simplistic step1 stuff. Blame those early state-school educations, teachers union product, if you must ...

    I trust he better understand. The rest is just fun defending my statements, watching y'all construct those boxes you like to stick people in to, and assuming they're getting "mad" at knocking down such silly drivel.

    Sorry, but the non-warm and fuzzy stuff has always been fun for me.

    And regarding the "high school" um... comeback attempt ... no.

    And I've never puked on my ladies' shoes either! Lol...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:33 AM  

  • Oh, forgot to sign that one.

    All the best.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:34 AM  

  • Maybe I do need to spell it out for you though...

    This one is ironic because you are discussing abortion with preconcieved ideas of what the issues are (i.e. Morals versus reproductive freedom) even though the post is about the actual bible passage that the anti-abortion stance of Christians is based on, not the other issues you keep bringing up. So if you read the post without your preconceptions, you'd be discussing how to interpret the bible, not how it stacks up against a woman's right to choose.

    I'm not a religious fundamentalist. But I do understand how opinions on abortion often follow along religious lines. If you don't get that, well you're just wading into the debate.

    If you think all those who believe that potential life begins upon conception are necessarily bible-thumpers though, or even pro-life, you are sadly mistaken. It's not going to work selling your ideas until you acknowledge basic science, and stop trying to confuse the debate with thing like, "The mother could stop eating" or "Lots of women have miscarriages too, you know."

    And the whole idea that women who don't abort early pregnancies then stop at their magic number, while those who do don't cause any harm because they even things out with later replacement children, is just that. Bunk. (Like much of Gladwell's pop-sci econo work, I might add. See if it holds up in years to come, or is just a passing phase intriguing those who were not exposed to both proper economic theory as well as a grounding of human psychology, history, and social trends in their high school and undergraduate years. Save your pop-book money to affort private
    educations early for your own offspring?)

    Funny though, no one picked up on the discussion point early on meant to steer the conversation: How does the "replacement" child theory account for non-aborting cultures living where it is legal? What about women who never again conceive after an abortion? To me, that was the interesting part of the conversation, but it got sidetracked with some apparently encountering for the first time that upon conception
    a potential human life is undeniably created.

    Does the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago still have the human fetuses displayed? That was cool to see back on the third grade fieldtrip, when our class first encountered such undeniable scientific facts.

    All the best.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:48 AM  

  • Zachary... Zachary Wyatt...

    Are you commenting on blogs on state time?

    Yeah, I'd comment anonymously on worktime too, son.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:59 AM  

  • I made a bunch of mistakes in my earlier post. The punishment for a woman who helps her husband in a fight with another man by grabbing the other guy's genitals is found in Deuteronomy 25:11 (not Exodus,like I thought) and the punishment is to cut off her hand, not to stone her. Also, the second commandment, at least in the edition I have, is to not commit murder (I said it was not to kill)

    Going back and reading all those rules was kind of fun. I haven't read the old testament for a long time. Some of the rules are so fair and reasonable, even benevolent, while others are straight up bonkers. Makes you wonder if the translation is off or some monk got drunk and decided to test his editors one day.

    Anyway, Paul, I think this was an excellent post. People like me think they pretty much know what the bible says, but when you go back and re-read it, you realize it would take weeks, if not years, to really gain even a rudimentary memory, let alone understanding, of it.

    For anyone still reading, here is my comment:

    You say you don't understand why peoples' opinion on abortion should follow along religous lines, and if it does, why there seems to be such a consensus view, given the ambiguity of the texts.

    I would theorize that the answer could be best sought through sociological explanations. (it pains me to say sociology has the answer, but I think it does here.) I'm saying its an us v. them, red staters v. blue staters mentality, on both sides. Why else would people picket planned parenthood clinics with bible passage signs and not Walmart, which is open on the sabbath? Furthermore, why picket when you could pick up an extra shift a week and sponsor ten kids through feed the children?

    Obviously, many people believe abortion is murder, or very close to murder. That is pretty logical, and I respect that argument.

    Others, however, get some sort of utility being pro-life, tell themselves its because they are religous, and never make the connection that they are are not so much pro-life as they are being a pro-life type of person.

    By Anonymous bill, at 10:50 PM  

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