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Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

In the real world, even the most conscientiously-practiced birth control methods fail on occasion due to no fault on the part of either partner. Your argument hearkens back to the old saw that sex is dirty unless procreation is the desired outcome. It also smacks of the archaic admonition that "good girls don't do it".
(R) The last time I checked, both the pill and Depo-provera methods are 99.9% accurate.
(MB) Where did you check these figures? In real-world figures, the pill is 92%-95% effective. Depo-provera is projected to be 99.7% effective if the woman maintains the strict schedule of receiving the shots. However, some women recover from its effects faster than what the normal schedule specifies, so real-world figures would be somewhat less than the laboratory projections.

(R) You are basing your logic upon the most infinitesimal exception, rather than the rule.
(MB) No, I'm not. I'm basing it on basic mathematics. You are not bothering to consider how many sexually-active women there are in the country and how often they have intercourse. You also fail to understand what probabilities mean when projected out over a population. Let me run a sample case study for you and let's see if you can figure it out. This study will be favorable to your arguments so it will not be possible for you to dispute the conclusion.
    Consider a population of 1,000,000 sexually-active married women who each engage in 100 acts of sexual intercourse with their husbands over the course of 2 years' time. Let's say that all of these women use Depo-provera properly and that the success rate of the injections is 99.7% across that population. According to your claim, we should expect an infinitesimal number of accidental pregnancies. Is that what we find? Let's run the numbers and find out.
    Over the two years of the study, there would be 100 million acts of sexual intercourse or 136,986 per day across the population. If the use of Depo-provera is 99.7% effective, that means it fails 0.3% of the time. Multiplying 136,986 * 0.3%, we get 410 accidental pregnancies per day across our population of 1,000,000 women. Multiply 410 * 730 (the number of days in two years), and you get 299,300 accidental pregnancies over the course of the study. Do you consider this to be a "most infinitesimal exception"?
    Of course, if you increase the number of sexually-active women to its real value, if you increase their rate of sexual activity to more likely figures, and reduce the effectiveness of Depo-provera to its real-world values, you will greatly increase the number of accidental pregnancies. This is exactly what I had earlier stated and, as you must certainly see, the argument is based upon pure and unarguable mathematics. It will be most interesting to see how you wish to dispute this.
    Do you know what the *really* infinitesimal exceptional value is here? It is the odds that there will *no* accidental pregnancies among our sample population of 1,000,000 women. Even if each of these women is permitted to have sex only *ONE* time and uses Depo-provera and has a 99.7% chance that it will prevent a pregnancy, the odds are 6.94 x 10 to the 1304th power that none of them will have an accidental pregnancy. Now, which one of us is basing his argument on infinitesimal exceptions?
    Finally, not all women can or should use Depo-provera due to the side effects it can produce. So, your "solution" falls apart on every level of critical scrutiny -- even when given the benefit of every doubt.

(R) My argument has nothing to do with traditional values and has everything to do with the fact that physiologically, copulation is for the purpose of reproduction. If you disagree, then simply take a look at every other species inhabiting this planet.
(MB) Physically, this is undeniably true. However, Homo sapiens get much more out of sex than the ability to reproduce. Even your religion recognizes this as it says that sex is supposed to be God's gift to married couples. If sex was purely for reproductive purposes, there would be no biological reason for it to produce such intense physical and emotional pleasure. Human beings (and some apes and monkeys) are the only species on the planet who engage in sexual activity for pleasure.

(R) The pleasure aspect of sex is the driving mechanism for reproduction so we can survive as a species.
(MB) Not correct. This also defeats your own argument in the previous paragraph. If pleasure drives the reproductive urge, you can't also argue that "copulation is for the purpose of reproduction" since that would exclude the pleasure aspect.

(R) My original point was that women "choose" everytime they have sex.
(MB) Not true. You are ignoring the cases of rape, incest, incompetence, or submission under duress.

(R) I am saying that the "choice" women make is when they have sex, not when they get pregnant.
(MB) Once again, you're confusing an absolute moral value for what happens in the real world. When a woman become pregnant accidentally, the last thing she needs to listen to is some self-righteous paragon of morality telling her she "made a bad choice". That does absolutely nothing to address the issue at hand.

(R) If it is so manditory that a women cannot bear a child, then she should not be having sex.
(MB) That's the same argument that the Catholics use when they protest against the use of any form of birth control other than abstinence or the ever-ineffective "rhythm" method.

(R) The real issue of abortion is all about the right to have sex. It all about sex.
(MB) Nope. It's all about real-world issues and choices. Intelligent people realize that things don't always go as planned. Even the most careful driver can be involved in an accident. If it happens, you don't blast him by saying that he shouldn't have been driving if he wanted to avoid being in an accident. You allow him to fix his car and get on with his life.

(R) I think it is moral anarchy to make one's own momentary sexual pleasure more important than another human's life.
(MB) There are a couple of questions being begged here. First, why do you consider this to be "moral anarchy"? Second, where is the other "human life"? In addition, by that last claim, *abstinence* should not be permitted since every time a woman refuses sex, an opportunity to produce another "human life" would be lost.

(R) Abortion is analogical to how ancient barbarian soceities used to sacrifice their offspring by fire in service to their gods.
(MB) "Ancient barbarian societies" like the Jews, for instance, who sacrificed their first-born by fire to Yahweh as he commanded in the Old Testament? In what way is abortion analogous to this?

(R) Today, women are sacrificing their offspring in service to the gods called "Convienence" and "Sexual gratification."
(MB) On what basis do you label these things "gods"? In doing so, don't you demean your own god?

(R) Abortionists and all abortion advocates are no better than the ancient barbarians who valued some other ideal above human life itself.
(MB) This "valuing human life" argument is pure nonsensical tripe. One only needs to read of all the atrocities committed under the direction of Yahweh in the Old Testament to see how much value was placed on "human life".

In the real world, victims of violent crime are not punished for the actions of their assailants.
(R) Since when is having a baby a "punishment?"
(MB) What would you consider it to be when the dictates of an arbitrary system of morality demand that an unwilling mother is forced to bear and raise an unwanted child which was conceived in her by somebody who was not her chosen life partner?

(R) Remember, the baby would still belong to the mother too. The baby would be genetically related to her. Its *her* baby, not just the rapist's.
(MB) Without the actions of the rapist, how would the woman have conceived that baby? Your claim is distressingly close to ignoring the rape in favor of bearing the child which it produced.

It is unconscionable to force a woman to bear a child that is the unwanted product of rape.
(R) Unwanted "product" of rape?
(MB) What else would you call it?

(R) I always see abortion proponents use any language they can to try to de-humanize the baby by choosing to call it a "fetus" or a "product." Why is it that when women want to have it, its a "baby," but when they don't want it, it becomes something else? I have yet to hear a women say: "I am pregnant with a product."
(MB) Now, you're just being silly. The word "fetus" is a precise medical term which is not "dehumanizing" in any way. "Product" refers to the consequences of an action and not to the baby. Finally, it's not a "baby" until after it is born.

Why not permit her to recover from any effects of the crime and allow her to bear children that she wants who will be fathered by her choice of partner at a time of their own choosing?
(R) Women could recover from the effects of the crime without terminating the pregnancy. In fact, many women who have been impregnated through rape, carry their baby to term, and give it up for adoption with very little emotional or recovery issues. So the woman does not necessarily have to "parent" the child. In fact, in many places, there are huge waiting lists of people wanting to adopt.
(MB) Nobody is arguing against that. However, why must the woman be forced to carry an unwanted child all the way through to term when she knows that she will just be giving it up? She is still suffering the effects of the crime for the full nine months of her pregnancy and her psyche will continue to suffer the effects for much longer afterwards. If she was allowed to abort the child when she discovers that she is pregnant, the long-term effects will be much less severe. Finally, while some women can act as you wish and suffer little adverse impact, you can't make the same claim for all women and there is no reason to demand that they must be able to act in that way.

In the real world, restitution for a crime is never a "wrong". Forcing an unwanted "solution" upon the victim of a crime is the real wrong here.
(R) How is killing your own offspring "restitution?"
(MB) This begs the question about whether or not anything is being "killed" in an abortion. In fact, you don't have any "offspring" until after a birth has taken place. Finally, it's even difficult to consider it to be the mother's "own offspring" since it was conceived against her will by a person who was not her chosen life partner. Therefore, your argument has several problems of basic logic.

(R) If the baby was itself the perpetrator, then killing it could be considered restitution for *it's* crime. But this is clearly not the case. The baby is an innocent result of the crime, not the perpetrator thereof.
(MB) Again, it's not a baby until after a birth has taken place. I'm not trying to say that abortion is a perfect solution. However, its effects certainly seem less than those of any other alternative. This is especially true if you consider that abortion of an unwanted child does not mean that the mother can not, at some future time of her own choosing, conceive and bear another child that will be wanted and loved.

In the real world, all such mothers would have the financial and emotional ability to care for such children and it would always be possible for such children to grow to happy, healthy and productive adulthood. Your argument about "responsibility" completely ignores all cases where pregnancy occurs despite one's best efforts to prevent it. It's really a thinly-veiled plea for abstinence.
(R) You say my argument disregards all the infinitesimally small number of cases where pregnancy is unpreventable.
(MB) I have already demonstrated the fallacy of that argument.

(R) There are numerous methods of birth control.
(MB) And, none is 100% effective or can be used by 100% of women. Therefore, you are always going to be faced with the problem of unwanted pregnancies. The intelligent thing to do is to deal with them on a case-by-case basis rather than to engage in pointless bickering about somebody's unsupportable ideal of "morality".

(R) Instead of murdering our offspring while their still in the womb, why not fund research in the field of birth control so that scientists can produce a method that is 100% reliable? Doesn't this seem to be the more sensible thing to do in our technologically advanced age rather than barbarically take the life of our unborn offspring?
(MB) I agree that we should continue to pursue birth control research and strive for a 100% solution. However, have you noticed how many protests are raised by those who claim to occupy the moral high ground every time a new method of birth control is introduced? Have you noticed how many of these same people protest vigorously against making existing methods more available?
    In the meantime, unwanted pregnancies will still happen. I would consider it to be far more cruel and barbaric to force a child to be born into an environment where it will not be wanted or loved and/or can't receive the proper care that it needs or into one where it may not be able to survive at all despite any efforts by its parents to care for it.

In the real world, parents only want a limited number of children and wish for all of them to be ideal in their eyes. Why should they be faced with the prospect of giving up the opportunity to bear ideal children just because someone else's version of morality seeks to force them to take pot luck?
(R) In order for any form of civilized society to work, there must be a predominate concensus of morality.
(MB) I agree, but who determines the version of morality that will be enforced or permitted? Why should a morality based upon an arbitrary religious system get more consideration than one that is based on reason and intelligence? Why shouldn't the individual circumstances of each mother be the most important consideration instead of forcing her to abide by somebody else's wishes?

(R) In regards to terminating the life of one's own offspring, there should be a concensus.
(MB) I agree. But, that consensus should be that the mother should have the absolute right to determine for herself whether or not she wishes to carry a pregnancy through to term. Nobody else has the right to make that decision for her.

(R) The only reason there is not a concensus on this issue is because of all the political spin-doctrining.
(MB) Without this country's conservative religious activists, there would not *be* an issue here. Most other countries in the world do not have the same restrictive and anal-retentive attitudes towards abortion (or, for that matter, any matter directly or peripherally related to sex) that plague us here in the good old US of A.

(R) This should never have become a political issue. This should be a legal issue because legality is built upon justice, and justice is built upon morality. So laws are inextricably attached to morality.
(MB) It *is* a legal issue. And, the law of the United States permits abortion and has done so since 1973. I guess that the law isn't good enough for the religious conservatives despite what they wish to claim.

(R) For example, the reason people go to jail for robbery is because the "law" says robbery is "wrong." So anything that is a legal issue can be reduced to a moral issue, and *vice versa*.
(MB) Not really. There are many laws that have nothing to do with morality. Are seat belt laws a moral issue? How about tax laws? Anti-littering laws? The list of laws which are not moral issues is quite long, indeed.

In the real world, it is not always possible or rational to bear and raise every child that is conceived. Better to have fewer children and raise them well than to increase the number of unwanted ones for no better reason than to preserve somebody else's notion of morality.
(R) If it is not possible or rational to bear children, then why the hell would those people be copulating? If you are fertile, and you have sex, pregnancy is an option, otherwise, don't copulate. Its as simple as that.
(MB) You can extrapolate that simplistic nonsense all the way back through the sequence of getting married, dating, growing up, or even being born in the first place. Sex is a basic instinct. Period. "Just say 'No'" is not a realistic solution -- especially for married couples. Sex is a necessary bonding activity in a marriage. It is naive to expect that it won't happen and it's foolish to demand that couples eat the risk of an unwanted pregnancy and suffer the consequences should it occur by retroactively applying arbitrary standards of morality to them.

In the real world, many women have abortions precisely *because* they respect human life and wish only to bear children to whom the quality of that life can be optimal. It seems barbaric to force the birth and raising of a child who could not have such a life.
(R) How is "respect" for life expressed by its "termination"?
(MB) Would you consider it "more respectful" to bear an unwanted and unloved child? Is it respectful to bear a child with a fatal birth defect who could never have any sort of normal or happy life? Is it respectful to bring a child into an environment where it would suffer as a daily norm? Or, is it more respectful not to ever bear the child?

(R) With this logic, I could say that those trench-coat kids in Colorado had a great deal of respect for life.
(MB) No, you couldn't. You would be confusing living human beings who had legal rights, privileges, protections, and status with fetuses. Teenagers and fetuses are not the same.

(R) Hitler had a great deal of respect for life by that definition as well.
(MB) Wrong again. Just substitute "Jews" for "teenagers" in the previous paragraph.

(R) As far as "optimal," even when children are born in the most optimal environments, there is no guarantee of quality of life. The econonmy could crash, parents could lose jobs, one or both parent might die in a car accident, etc. etc.
(MB) Quite true. However, those exceptional situation would not be present at the time that the child was conceived and the parents were faced with the immediate decisions surrounding its eventual birth. The fact that bad things might happen in the future is not the same thing as the reality that things might be bad already and have little hope of improvement.

(R) My point is that their are no guarantees on "life quality."
(MB) There doesn't have to be. The realities of the situation at the immediate time when decisions must be made is what matters. If the parents choose abortion because of an immediate inability to raise the child properly, that does not mean that their situation won't improve in the future. At such time, they could freely choose to have children who would gain the benefits of the parents' improved ability to love and support them. What is lost if the prospective parents are allowed to have their children at a time when they are best able to raise them? What is gained if those same parents are forced by some arbitrary moral dictates to bear children they don't want or can't support at the time they might be conceived?

(R) By your logic, we should all kill ourselves right now because we have no guarantee that are quality of life in the future will be "optimal."
(MB) Since I have said nothing of the sort, your claim is nothing more than the irrational blithering of somebody who can't justify his own opinions. Your case is not improved by trying to distort mine.

(R) Also, your "optimal" idea ignores all of the great people who overcame horrible childhoods and became inspirational adults who use their story to encourage and inspire others.
(MB) The reason we hear about them is because those cases are so rare. If the majority of cases were that way, they wouldn't be news nor would they be inspiring. The reality of the matter is that far more children never overcome horrible childhoods and many of those childhoods are horrible because the children themselves were unwanted when they were born. Even if a few do rise above it all, what reason is there to force them to have been born into such a situation in the first place? Is there some perverse "justice" in forcing so much suffering on children just because a few might overcome it? That's not too far from something as foolish as justifying the Holocaust because a few people survived it.

We live in the real world and the legality and availability of abortion is one of the tools we should have to try to make it better.
(R) Availability and legality of abortion is moral anarchy and makes our culture akin to the ancient barbarians.
(MB) You have yet to explain why the US is practically alone in the sort of attitudes toward abortion that you support. In most of the rest of the world, it's barely even an issue. If our culture is so weak that abortion can turn it into barbarism, we have *far* more serious problems to deal with. In fact, if a culture is barbaric, it makes even *less* sense to force unwanted children to be born into it.

(R) There are many sensible alternative courses of action to reduce or eliminate some of the problems that abortion is alleged to be the solution to.
(MB) Sure there are. Abortion is just one option out of many that are (and should be) available for parents to choose from. Not all solutions work for all people in all cases. To arbitrarily deny any options is to deny some people the right to choose what is best for them and their situation. The choice belongs to the parents -- and *only* to the parents. Nobody else has any right to interfere in that choice. You are certainly free to disagree with any choice they may choose to make, but you can not deny them the right to make their choice.

(R) In this age of technology and scientific enlightenment, committing the gory act of killing one's own offspring should be the least sensible proposition.
(MB) In this age of technology and scientific enlightenment, it is a shame that so many people are still brainwashed by ancient mythology and can't think clearly enough to make their own decisions or allow others to do so.

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