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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).

This is the third 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.

(R) This whole rape idea is really straining at statistical nats.
(MB) Is it? No, it's a legitimate issue that demands some decent answers. You can't just brush it aside with speeches about "responsibility" or by lumping all women together into some Pollyanna-ish category.

(R) You are totally failing to note that a massive percentage of women who have abortions experience post-abortion depression and psychological problems. Some of these problems take years to resolve.
(MB) Is this another speech or are there any facts to back up this claim? Remember that you began this argument by saying "some" women experience these problems. Now, it's up to "a massive percentage" of women. I think you'll need to put a little meat on the bones of this claim.

(R) So in the case of rape, abortion statistically would just add one psychological trauma to another.
(MB) That could happen. But, carrying the child to term "statistically" does the same thing. Each individual woman must weigh the risks, problems, and benefits of any possible choice for herself. Then, she should make the choice that is best for her. It may well be that no choice is completely acceptable, but no choice should be restricted from consideration.

This begs the question about whether or not anything is being "killed" in an abortion.
(R) Again, all the hair-splitting over words in the world will not change the fact that abortion is "killing."
(MB) There's no hair-splitting here at all. Proving whether or not anything is being "killed" in an abortion is crucial to the success of your case. If you can't do this, you can't fall back on anything other than your own personal morality -- which won't amount to a pair of fetid dingo's kidneys as far as the woman in question (or anybody else, for that matter) is concerned.

(R) If I killed you, I could simply say I "aborted" your life. I could also kill someone and say that I "terminated" their life. It makes no difference what you call it, its all the same thing.
(MB) No, it's not. Again, you can't brush aside precise terminology just to attempt to lump everything together into one nice, tidy, convenient category. An "abortion" is a medical procedure that can only be performed on an unborn child. I am not an unborn child, so you could not "abort" my life. You might choose to call it that just to further obfuscate your own arguments. For that matter, you could choose to say that you committed "qwerty5.42%*" on me, if you wanted to. Selective vocabularies change nothing in reality. That's one of the major problems with "political correctness". You might want to check out my essay on that subject, as well.

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 is never born, then "offspring" could not exist. So it logically follows that you are killing your unborn "offspring."
(MB) No, that does not logically follow since "unborn offspring" would be a paradoxical term.

(R) As far as whether or not its the mother's "own offspring," do a dna test and find out. I was referring to "offspring" in biological terms, not relational terms.
(MB) Obviously, the mother will contribute half of the child's DNA. However, she will *always* do that, no matter how the child was conceived. I doubt that you will want to assert that the mother would consider a child which was conceived by rape and a child which was conceived with her chosen life partner to be no different in any way. Yet, that is what you are saying with your strictly biological connotation and ignorance of circumstances.

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) Unwanted "things" are not the same as unwanted people.
(MB) True, but some unwanted "things" can produce unwanted people, right? So, those things must also be dealt with.

(R) A fetus, baby, child, then adult is all the same "person," just at different stages of existence.
(MB) Might as well add gamete, zygote, and, for that matter, corpse to your list. Perhaps sperm and egg should also be on the list? What's your point?

(R) When people are "unwanted," the last thing we should do is kill them, regardless of where they may happened to be in the stages of existence.
(MB) Once again, you've lumped a bunch of things together under one convenient and undefendable umbrella. Besides the question-begging about "killing" somebody who hasn't even been born yet, your statement may also lead into side discussions on euthanasia and capital punishment which are unrelated to abortion.

(R) Also, what is so "unsupportable" about a morality that claims unborn human life should be protected?
(MB) The fact that such a claim is nothing more than speech-making and question-begging.

(R) Why is that such a dishonorable moral?
(MB) There is a difference between something which is dishonorable (which may or may not be supportable) and something which is unsupportable (which may or may not be honorable). I said that your morality claim was unsupportable, but passed no judgment as to whether or not it was honorable.

(R) If humans are disposeable in the womb, why shouldn't they be just as disposeable at any other phase of existence?
(MB) Good question. In fact, many different societies have believed just that. But, once again, you beg the question of whether or not humans have some inherent quality that demands preservation of their lives over and above all other concerns.

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?
(R) Yes, I have, and the hypocrisy of it all disgusts me.
(MB) On this point, we are in absolute and total agreement.

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.
(R) This is pure nonsense. There are thousands of loving couples that are willing to wait years to adopt.
(MB) Adoption is not the ultimate solution, nor are all unwanted babies likely to be good candidates for adoption. What do we do with the babies that nobody (including potential adoptive parents) wants? The couples who wait years to adopt are most likely to be the ones who have the most stringest requirements as to what sort of child they are willing to accept. These couples are not likely to accept crack babies, babies with severe birth defects, or babies of other races or ethnicities, for example. They may even exclude one particular sex of child. If no babies are available which meet their criteria, they will continue to wait for one that does.

(R) You are making it sound like there are no alternatives to abortion except the raising of the child by the unwanting parents.
(MB) Not at all. All I am saying is that abortion is one of many potential options from which the woman should be allowed to make a free choice. On the other hand, you are making it sound like adoption is the cure for all problems.

(R) There are many couples that are infertile and cannot have children, but want them desperately. It only makes sense to give these babies to these couples, as opposed to killing them.
(MB) Does it make sense to force unwilling women to be "baby factories" for infertile couples?

(R) How evil is it when a society of fertile women kill their unborn children they did not wanted, while the infertile couples who desperately want children, but cannot have them, must go on multiple-year waiting lists just to adopt?
(MB) Why is this "evil"? Why do you assume that infertile couples must "go on multiple-year waiting lists" to adopt a child? The only reason why such couples would ever have to wait that long is if they have very restrictive preferences for the child that they are willing to adopt. If they are truly desperate, why don't they accept the first available child without regard to its sex, race, ethnicity, or health?

(R) Also, if a baby dies naturally, that is honorable since we all should die naturally. I don't think anybody feels that natural death is less honorable than sucking a fetus into a sink.
(MB) I think that you have a very broad and unsupportable definition of "natural death" here. By this definition, anybody who dies would have "died naturally" no matter what caused that death. Are you really going to tell me that a murder victim, an accident victim, or a soldier killed in battle have all died a "natural death"? Finally, what's the real difference? Death is death. Someone who dies of old age is just as dead as the victim of a fatal accident. Describing any death as "honorable" is only an appeal to emotion which seeks to make the death somehow more palatable.

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?
(R) Once again, you are resorting to your fallacious stereotype of "relgion vs. Reason."
(MB) No, I'm not. To show me to be in error, you will have to defend religion as being based solely upon reason rather than on arbitrary appeals to emotion, ignorance and/or fear.

(R) Its a humanistic view that is so old and tired that its not even worth the energy to regurgitate it.
(MB) Translation: This argument is so strong that I can't refute it and I admit that it points out the underlying weakness in the religious point of view. Therefore, I'll try to brush it aside and hope that nobody notices.

(R) Your idea of arbitrarity could be called "arbitrary" itself.
(MB) How?

(R) Intelligence and reason support the christian world-view and moral system, and it is only through your convuluted ignorances and deceptions that you think otherwise.
(MB) To demonstrate this, you will need to demonstrate how a "world-view and moral system" which is based upon the "will" of a God whose existence can't even begin to be supported and which advocates blind faith in that entity is a system which is actually based upon "intelligence and reason".

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) The individual circumstances of each mother should be addressed and considered, but that has nothing to do with suggesting to her that it is "okay" to kill her unborn child.
(MB) How are you considering the circumstances in anything more than a dismissive way if you automatically exclude certain options for the mother?

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) If the baby was not a unborn human person, I would agree.
(MB) To defend this argument, you are going to have to show what qualities this "unborn human person" possesses that makes it equal to its living mother.

(R) In the issue of abortion, I see two persons, and two lives involved and I do not think that one should be terminated for the sake of the other. Such an action is morally depraved.
(MB) This is easily disproven if you look at the cases of ectopic pregnancy. In such cases, the choice *must* be made between the life of the mother and that of the fetus. Here, the fetus must be aborted in order for the mother to survive. How is this "morally depraved"?

Without this country's conservative religious activists, there would not *be* an issue here.
(R) I knew you would say that.
(MB) So did I. The reason, of course, is that it is an obvious truth. You can label it as "religion-bashing" if you want. That doesn't alter the truth and is nothing more than special pleading in favor of religion as being any better than any other unsupportable idea.

(R) You twitch with anticipation for any opportunity you can to bash religion, people of faith, or any other group that is not depraved humanists.
(MB) I twitch with anticipation whenever I am presented with the opportunity to speak the truth. Your argument, on the other hand, relies exclusively on emotional appeals and fallacies of both fact and logic. Not to mention the ad hominem sideswipes against non-believers.

(R) I view you as a morally handicapped individual who has more epistemological hang-ups than a dry cleaners.
(MB) I view you as somebody who needs to go back and retake Analogies 101...*grin* You are free to view me in any way you please. Your opinion of me will not change any facts concerning this debate. Not to mention that you are still lacking a defense of your system of morality or a proof that non-belief in God and immorality are synonymous.

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) Thats correct, and in china, where abortion is forced, they also think that running people over in tanks is acceptable as well.
(MB) Perhaps you could explain how a national policy which seeks to limit a country's explosive population growth is related to government crackdowns on political dissidents?

(R) Where atheism prevails, such as china, it seems total disregard for human life flourishes. I don't think I need to inform you about all of the massive human rights problems over there.
(MB) First of all, atheism does not prevail in China -- unless, of course, you consider any and all systems of belief which do not explicitly worship the Xian version of "God" to be "atheism". Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism, and many other Eastern religions and philosophies are all systems of belief which surpass Xianity in their views on the dignity of Man. Human rights abuses in China derive from the politics of government and not from the fact that the country is not Xian.
    Secondly, the record of human rights abuses in Xian nations is every bit as dismal as what exists in countries targeted by the spin-doctored political rhetoric coming out of Washington. Right here in the "God-fearing" USA, we can "proudly" point to slavery, extermination of indigenous peoples, and social divisions based on such things as economic class, race, gender, age, sexual orientation and ethnicity. Xians have no cause for moralistic chest-thumping.

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) It is a legal issue, but my point was more directed to the fact that it has become a big political issue as well.
(MB) That wasn't your original point, but I guess you have a need to diverge from it now that I've shown it to be insufficiently thought out. In any case, you and I both know that political issues are nothing more than things which have significant influence as to whether or not somebody gets elected or reelected.

(R) There are many laws that are made every day that you and I do not know of.
(MB) That is certainly not the case with the particular legal issue of abortion,so what's your point?

(R) We do not consent to every law that a small minority of officals pass.
(MB) In our form of government, we elect a small group of people to represent the collective will of the population. When this group enacts laws, they have done so with the implicit consent of the majority. If we don't like how they represent us, we have the obligation to vote them out of office when the next election rolls around. So, what does any of this have to do with abortion?

(R) I also find it interesting that the woman involved in the roe vs. Wade trial is now pro-life.
(MB) Why? People can't change their minds over the years? Would you also express the same level of interest about formerly pro-life women who have changed their minds and become pro-choice?

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.
(R) Seat belt laws should not exist, and thats why here in maine, the voters overturn a bill that would introduce such laws.
(MB) Why should seat belt laws not exist? How is this an issue of morality?

(R) Tax laws also are protestable. The boston tea party ring a bell?
(MB) Of course. And, few people rally in support of tax laws. But, does that make these things issues of morality?

(R) Anti-littering laws are moral is a way, because the law exists because there is an assumed morality that "littering is wrong."
(MB) Oh, please. Ask yourself why, from an objective viewpoint, that littering is a bad thing. Consider the associated health risks, the expense of cleanup, the unsightliness of trash, etc. and then try to tell me that the basis for anti-littering laws is some standard of morality.

(R) My point still is solid - morality and law are inextricably related.
(MB) Your point is becoming increasingly desperate. Morality and law may be coincidental, but they are certainly not inextricable.

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