REPLY #16a TO
are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his 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)
This is the first of a four-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.
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) Even if some women recover from each shot faster than others, the chances are still very exiguous that pregnancy can occur. This is due to the fact that the hormone resides in the body a long time after the shot and begins to decline as time goes on. This fact is the reason why women should not expect to get pregnant until 6-12 months after the last shot was taken. Read the pamphlets.
(MB) I already know that. However, the fact that some hormone remains in the body does not mean that the amount which remains is sufficient to prevent pregnancy. That is why the shot schedule must be strictly maintained if one
hopes to achieve maximum effectiveness from the use of Depo-provera. Think for a minute. If your reasoning was correct, don't you think that the scheduled length of time between shots would be rather longer than it actually is?
BTW, you didn't answer my question concerning where you checked your figures.
(R) But 100% effectiveness can be acheived when women follow the shedules of their birth control method, and abstain from having sex between days 10-16, which is the ovulation period of their menstrual cycle.
(MB) That's not true for all women -- which is why the "trusty" Catholic "solution", i.e., the rhythm method, is little better than a crap shoot. My
wife, for example, normally ovulates no more than 2-3 days prior to the onset of her monthly period. Following the schedule you advocate would do no good for any women who have similar ovulation patterns.
(R) Your case study is massively flawed in real-world terms.
(MB) No, it isn't. In fact, it is very conservative in its figures so as to give your arguments the benefit of every doubt. But, let's see how you'll try to wiggle out...
(R) If there are 1,000,000 women who have sex 100 times in 2 years, that is 50
instances a year per women. There are 52 weeks in a year, so that makes the occurance of intercourse just under once per week. 3 out of every 4 weeks are already cancelled since it is impossible for pregnancy to occur during these phases: the luteal phase which is days 17-28 of the cycle, the menstration phase which is days 1-5, and a good part of the follicular phase which is days 6-9. The only time pregnancy is possible is starting at around day 10, which includes the last two days of the follicular period (because sperm can live up to 3 days in the body) and extends into the ovulation phase which is days 12-16. So there is only 7 days of out 28 in which pregnancy is even possible.
(MB) The success rate for any birth control method already takes those concerns into consideration. If women could possibly get pregnant with every act of intercourse, the success rate of any method of birth control would be considerably less than what is currently advertised.
(R) With your mathematical figures in mind, sex would only be occurring once a week, therefore, your figures must be reduced by 75% because 3 out of every 4 instances of intercourse would be instances occurring in a week of impregnability.
(MB) OK, let's give you the benefit of yet another doubt and assume your "reasoning" to be valid. My earlier figures showed that our sample population would experience 299,300 accidental pregnancies over the two years in question. Reducing that by 75% would still produce 74,825 accidental pregnancies. Is this now an "infinitesimal" number?
(R) Also, it should be noted that the majority of abortions are *not* performed
upon "married women having sex once a week," but upon single women under the age of 30 who have sex far less than that, and get pregnant out of wedlock. And statistically, the instances of sex for single people is less than once a week, especially for single women.
(MB) Over a sample population of 1,000,000 women, there will be many different lifestyles represented. These will range from those who have sex multiple times every day to those who are "once a month, if it's really necessary" types. In fact, I chose my figures to be more amenable to your arguments and they *still* produce large numbers of accidental pregnancies. Did you read the penultimate
paragraph in my case study? Have you factored the effects of real-world values
for populations, sexual activity, and effectiveness of birth control into your
argument? It is your argument which relies upon exceptions, while mine is based
on the larger picture.
(R) So your figure of 410 a day is reduced to 102.5, and 299,300 would be reduced to 74,825 for the course of the study, which is a 75% decrease. So you may still think that 74,825 is a lot of unwanted pregnancies, and I do too.
(MB) So, how should those 74,825 unwanted pregnancies be handled? Retroactive "solutions" aren't applicable. I think you've just admitted that your earlier argument about accidental pregnancies being "infinitesimal" exceptions is quite
(R) The solution to make it next to zero is to abstain from intercourse for the
week of days 10-16 of the women's cycle, coupled with a reliable birth control
method. Its as simple as that.
(MB) As I've already pointed out, this is something that is not applicable to all women. You are still going to be faced with accidental and unwanted
pregnancies if you have women who are sexually active. Since it is not feasible
to insist that women abstain completely from sex, you are going to have to deal
with the problem of those accidental and unwanted pregnancies. You can *never*
make that problem go away. Who is going to make the decision about what the
woman should do? Should she be allowed to freely choose her own best option or
must she be forced to accept the dictates of an outsider's morality? Even if
there was only *one* case to be considered, the question must be answered and
the answer must be defended.
BTW, you have not addressed the issue of women for whom Depo-provera is not an option due to its side-effects. These women will also not be served by your simplistic and unrealistic solution.
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) Statistically, there are literally millions of species that have some form of copulation. My original point was that copulation is for the purpose of reproduction. If you do not agree, then how do you explain the fact that human males ejactulate fertile semen with every instance of "intense" physical pleasure? Physiologically, sex is for the purpose of reproduction. Any other meaning beyond this is philosophical, not biological.
(MB) "Philosophical"? Oh, brother! You don't think that the pleasure aspect of sex derives from biological evolution? Since Homo sapiens is a species which mates essentially for life, and since sexual pleasure is a bonding mechanism that strengthens the relationship of the mated couple, it seems rather obvious that the ability to experience pleasure from sex has been gained through natural selection. Even if you don't believe in evolution, don't you believe in your
own religion's doctrine that sex is God's gift to married couples? Heck, any
male/female pair can do the old "man-on-top-get-it-over-with-quick" and conceive
offspring. That requires no "gift" at all. If your attitude towards sex is
truly this stodgy, I hope you don't have a partner and I feel for her if you
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) The pleasure aspect "assists" in reproduction because the more good something feels, the more likely it will be done. The more it is done, the more offspring are produced.
(MB) So, where does "God's gift" come in as far as your religion is concerned? Sex certainly feels just as good to unmarried partners as it does to married couples. Also, your argument isn't reflective of the reproductive patterns of
practically every animal species on the planet. Females of most species go into estrus and become receptive normally only from once to a few times each year. Copulation with their mates must occur during these rare periods or there will be no offspring produced that year. There is no pleasure aspect at all that drives this instinct, it is purely a matter of species survival. Even if those species engaged in constant copulation throughout the entire year, there would be no increase in the number of offspring. In light of the realities of biology, your arguments fail quite resoundingly.
You are ignoring the cases of rape, incest, incompetence, or submission under duress.
(R) The chances are so fantastically unlikely that pregnancy will occur as a result of a rape.
(MB) Oh, really? Just how "fantastically unlikely" is it and how do you arrive at those figures? Even at that, you can't just ignore the unwanted pregnancies that will inevitably occur. You sound like you are an advocate of telling the woman that she just got unlucky and will have to pay the price for her bad
(R) Even if the rape occurred during the women's ovulation week, chances are still high that pregnancy will not occur in any *particular* ovulation cycle.
(MB) What's this nonsense? There's only one ovulation cycle where the woman could possibly become pregnant from any particular act of rape, incest, etc. Once again, you must deal with the unwanted pregnancies that do occur rather
than ignoring them by some warped rationalization about how "unlikely" they were
to have happened.
(R) Thats why most couples must try for months before pregnancy occurs.
(MB) There are many reasons why couples don't achieve a successful pregnancy as soon as they start trying. Perhaps one or both partners are less fertile than average. Perhaps the egg doesn't implant in the uterus. Perhaps the body spontaneously aborts the zygote shortly after fertilization. These things are
rather common. Other couples occupy the opposite extreme and are so fertile together that the woman can seemingly get pregnant if her husband merely occupies the same room with her (or so jokes one of my relatives who has six kids).
(R) Some incest is consentual, while some is not.
(MB) What does *that* have to do with anything? Incest is still incest, whether it is consentual or not. The facts remain that a conception resulting from incestuous sex has a much higher-than-average chance of birth defects. This is
the primary reason why incest is illegal under our legal system and under many
others as well.
(R) Again, I do not know what percentage of abortions take place for these above reasons. What I *have* read is that statistically, the women who get abortions are usually young single women, most under 30, and they do so for non-health reasons.
(MB) Younger women are more fertile and more sexually active, so this would seem to be a no-brainer. Don't misunderstand me here. I don't advocate that abortion should be relied upon as a method of birth control to the exclusion of
any or all other methods. But, when other methods fail and when accidental or unwanted pregnancies occur (as they inevitably will), I see no reason why the woman should not be allowed to choose from all available options. It is her decision and hers alone (in conjunction with her partner, of course). It is *not* the decision of those who claim to occupy some sort of moral high ground.
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) True, but your logic fails to address all the *future* "issues at hand" and
does nothing to resolve the real problem, but only deals with the *symptoms* of the problem.
(MB) Since you can't apply retroactive solutions to correct the initial cause of the unwanted pregnancy, there is no choice but to address what you
euphemistically call the "symptoms". You say that my logic fails to address all
the "future issues at hand", but you don't say what any of those "issues" are.
Is this just a catch phrase?
(R) Obviously, if pregnancy has already occurred, the issue would be addressed
in a different way.
(MB) Exactly! Now, the question remains whether or not we will allow the woman to choose from all available options. If not, why not?
(R) I don't think killing an unborn baby is resolving a problem; I think its
creating a new one.
(MB) Besides the question-begging about whether or not an unborn baby can actually be "killed", you need to specify what this "new problem" is that you
say will be created.
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 abstinence I am referring to is simply days 10-16 of a women's mentrual
(MB) That's the rhythm method, isn't it? That doesn't work to any satisfactory degree of reliability since not all women follow that precise cycle.
(R) It is next to impossible that a women will get pregnant if she abstains from intercourse during that one week.
(MB) Oh, please. There are several hundred million Catholics in the world who will provide a conclusive case study into how well the rhythm method
(R) The odds are 100% that women will not become pregnant when they abstain that
one week, and follow an effective birth control method, such as depo.
(MB) There is no such thing as a 100% probability of not becoming pregnant for any method other than complete and total abstinence for women who are still physically capable of conceiving.
(R) Me and my wife have been married for 6 years, have sex a lot, use this
method and have never once had a pregnancy scare.
(MB) I'm not sure of what your definition of "a lot of sex" is, but let's say that you and your wife have had sex 500 times during the 6 years of your marriage. If your birth control method is 99.7% effective, this means that the probability of never having an accidental pregnancy over that time is 22.2%, or about odds of 1-in-5. Therefore, your success is certainly not anything that could be called a rarity and really doesn't constitute a ringing testimonial to the efficacy of your method.
At best, you and your wife can only count yourselves as being one of the lucky couples. However, it should be rather obvious that you can't project your success onto the totality of the rest of the population. There may also be any number of other contributing factors which may also have helped your success (some of which have already been discussed). Then again, perhaps the time will come when even your best efforts will fail and you will be faced with an accidental pregnancy. I know how you'll likely deal with it, but, once again, your best solution may not be best for
others in the same boat.
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) The analogy of the car accident is sorefully bad when compared to pregnancy
because there is not just one particular week a month that you are able to get into a car accident.
(MB) That doesn't matter. Both the car accident and the accidental pregnancy are one-time incidents. Most of the time, the careful driver will have no accidents. Most of the time, the careful woman will not become pregnant.
However, it just takes once to counteract any number of previous successes.
When that happens, the person involved must be able to choose from all possible
(R) Besides, the analogy says he "fixes" his car, not "blows it up." Abortion is *terminating* an accident, not fixing it.
(MB) If the car is totaled, it will have to be "terminated", won't it? That doesn't mean that the driver can't go out and buy another car. Likewise, if a woman has an abortion, that doesn't mean that she couldn't later have another child at a time of her own choosing.
(R) In order to be a true parallel, you'd have to say: "you allow him to destroy
his car, and get on with his life."
(MB) Only in the case of a totaled vehicle which can't be returned to its original condition. Of course, since a woman can't "un-conceive", an abortion is an analogous situation.
(R) Again, you are comparing human life to an inanimate vehicle which supports my previous point where I said that abortion supporters always de-humanize unborn babies in some way. You compared human life to a vehicle. This is sick.
(MB) No, I compared two situations in which a person must make a crucial decision. My point is that the decision can't be forced upon them and that
options can't be denied to them. Your diversionary attack merely seeks to avoid
dealing with that point.
Finally, if there was a consensus on whether or not an unborn baby was "human", there would be no issue here to debate. Therefore, your complaint is
little more than question-begging tinged with an appeal to emotion.