when the status quo frustrates.

Heroic embryo-rights firefighters make me so hot

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Not counting the comments in this old thread over the last two days, I have written exactly zero on the subject of reproductive rights. In my life. Guess I just figured other people had it covered. What a spineless coward I’ve been. Time to get out there and knock some heads! As I’m an RR noob, please forgive me if I come out swinging on an argument that has only been definitively kiboshed about a zillion times, namely the whole “life begins at conception” thing.

I won’t rehash what’s gone on so far in the thread, but suffice it to say that my right hand has been busy, and thus All Your Uteri Are Belong To Us (“us” being me and my gametes).

In one corner: me and Antigone (who kindly reminded me as to the difference between a gamete and a zygote).

In the other corner: Neil, a biblical literalist who in the last week has not only blogged a response to Lisa’s nearly year-old post, but also noted how gay pride parades are God-mockery and helpfully pointed out that Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett just might now be in hell (pretty classy, Neil!); and Theobromophile, a regular at Neil’s site. Neil’s blog seems to get decent traffic, so we may get some other new visitors too, but what the heck, I’m in the mood to add a few more kleenex to the pile.

The fight: Can the “rights” of a single-celled organism trump the “rights” of a woman? (I’d like to point out the first set of scare quotes are mine, and the second set Neil’s.)

Taking off from the last current comment on Lisa’s thread, by Theobromophile:

The scientific fact is that gametes are not human beings the way that zygotes, blastocysts, and embryos are. There is no right to life of a gamete, no more than your dandruff has a right to life.

However, conception changes all of that. From the moment of fertilisation, the egg changes; it develops a hard outer shell to keep out other sperm; DNA from the parents’ gametes mixes; and cell division begins. (Scientists can examine two-celled blastocysts and determine where the head will be.) The result is a complete human being at the earliest stage of life.

There is a tremendous amount of intellectual dishonesty required to pretend that foetuses (or embryos) are not living human beings. While I fully understand why most anti-lifers do not acknowledge this point – as to do so would be to admit that some humans in our society have a right to life, but the smallest, most vulnerable, and unwanted ones do not – it is, nevertheless, antagonistic towards basic biology.

Theo, considering you would apparently gladly risk the life of a real woman with a lifetime of experiences just as deep as your own for the sake of a non-sentient single celled organism that happens to have a hard outer shell, you really oughtta reconsider who you want to call “anti-life” here.

Wanna argue with me about about late term abortions, sure, we’ll still disagree, but at least I’ll feel like we might be able to have something approaching a rational conversation. Arguing in favor of a single cell is pure kookiness. Now you can claim “INTELLECTUAL DISHONESTY!111!!” all you want, but you’re not actually demonstrating exactly how I am supposedly being so. Let me instead show you your own.

You and Neil and others like you make the argument that because the scientific establishment classifies a certain parisitic single-celled organism as “human”, this somehow also proves, scientifically, your faith-based ethical belief that this non-sentient microscopic life form is morally equal to (or perhaps higher than) the life of the host human off of whom it is currently leeching. What we have here is a (yes) human single cell which has precisely as much awareness as a monkey zygote or a cat zygote or a mouse zygote or a gamete or an amoeba or a rice krispy. Your position seems to be that since a human zygote has a chance of growing into a self-aware homo sapiens at some much later date, it has already got some magic quality which makes its worth equal (or better) than the life of an adult woman who has it. But… why? Unfortunately, you guys are missing any kind of middle steps in your intended chain of logic.

This is intellectual dishonesty. Though I’ll give y’all the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re being just as intellectual dishonest with yourself as you are with me. I really can’t understand why anyone would hold your point of view, except with the theory that you are only getting so hot and bothered over this issue because believing this confers on you moral superiority and thus the right to control other people. Like, women.

Speaking of hot and bothered, here’s a challenge to Neil, Theobromophile, and to any other pro-zygote anti-woman’s “rights” lurkers out there. (Remember, that’s Neil’s scare quotes, not mine.)

Let me pose you a simple question. A variation on one I’ve read somewhere before, wish I could remember where. Anyway, please answer directly, as it may clarify a lot for all of us.

First, imagine that you are a heroic firefighter. (Who knows, maybe you really are one.) 

You’re passing by a fertility clinic when you notice it’s burning down. Being the brave and plucky embryonic-rights crusader you are, you leap into the fray to save as many frozen embryos as you can. You’re just lumbering out of a burning lab, loaded down with a refrigerator full of potentially hundreds of frozen blastocysts, when you suddenly notice a child whimpering in the corner, trapped behind a fallen timber which you are sure that you, with your rock hard pecs, can easily move.

Now, you might be able to leave and then come back for which/whoever you left behind; but the fire’s raging pretty badly. You also might not. Do you…

(1) …drop the refrigerator to save the child, and take the chance that the blaze might destroy the hundreds of frozen blastocysts before you can return?
(2) …keep on going with the refrigerator, and take the chance that the fire might kill or maim the child before you can return?

Follow-up questions:

If you chose the child, why did you do so?

If you chose the refrigerator, does your answer change if you know that the refrigerator has only ten frozen blastocysts? Only one?

And finally, if you refuse to give a straight answer either way, what does this say about the strength of your convictions?

Let’s Talk About Abortion

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Maybe it’s because it’s an election year, but I’ve been feeling outright pounded by abortion news lately. To wit:


The American Psychological Association said Wednesday there is “no credible evidence” that a single, elective abortion causes mental-health problems for adult women.

The report, which came after a two-year review of published research, was anticipated by both supporters and opponents of legal abortion.

Women’s psychological reaction to the procedure has become a key issue in the abortion debate, with some judges and lawmakers citing mental-health concerns as reason to impose restrictions on abortion.


Two years after a strict abortion ban [in South Dakota] was overturned by voters, backers have brought a similar measure — but one laced with complexities that could bode well for its passage, and ultimately could bring about the challenge to Roe v. Wade desired by abortion foes nationwide.

ABC News:

The Democratic Party is planning a convention designed to soften the edges on the party’s support for abortion rights, with a revamped platform and a speaking lineup that reinforces efforts to broaden Democrats’ appeal on the hot-button issue.

In a statement fraught with symbolism for those on both sides of the abortion debate, Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., an abortion-rights opponent, will be given a prime speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this month.


Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt has denied that a controversial draft regulation would redefine common birth control methods as abortion and protect the rights of doctors and other health-care workers who refuse to provide them.

According to the language in a draft of the regulation that leaked last month, the rule would apply to anyone who participates in “any activity with a logical connection to a procedure, health service or health service program, or research activity. . . . This includes referral, training and other arrangements of the procedure, health service, or research activity.”

One section of the draft regulation defines abortion as “any of the various procedures — including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action — that results in the termination of life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.”

US News & World Report:

John McCain yesterday said he would not rule out picking a pro-choice running mate, a move seen as a boost for former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who joined the presumptive GOP nominee for two days of campaign events in his home state.

The Guardian:

In Colorado voters are being asked whether human “personhood” begins at conception. If passed, that measure would make Colorado the first state to outlaw abortion outright since the Roe court ruling.

The Colorado ban has secured endorsements from “over 70″ anti-abortion physicians, according to its backers. But in the state’s closely fought Senate race, both Democratic candidate Mark Udall and self-described “pro-life” Republican Bob Schaffer are opposing the ban.

“I think there are other strategies and tactics that get us far closer to advancing the cause of human life,” Schaffer told a local Colorado radio station this month.



Sunday, July 15th, 2007

I got your eight novel-length comments. Get some damn help. Also, to the best of my knowledge there are no fluent Spanish speakers moderating the comments so I’m not going to let the novellas through because I have no idea what you’re saying. Plus, if it’s more of this:

If you think to rape a women better kill first, if you thing to hit a women even by self defence or if you have the point.

The women in police and laboratories put the rape and the female victims in first and so dedicated as a homicide or terrorism, so better kill and kill women where there are many specially feminist as a terrorist act, why be executed just for a murder if you going to be the same by thousand, so
Better go to the infra-structures of feminist organizations specially dress as a women whit powerful bombs in your bag and a gun whit a silenciator, kill the politicians feminist whit bombs in there cars or another’s alternatives.

Then that shit ain’t getting through even if I could read it. You’re one rant away from a real ban, which would be my first. Congrats.

Libertarian Troll Bingo

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Zingerella and I have been watching the comment pile-up on Amanda’s review of “Sicko” with some amusement. It seems that the Pandagonians have been hilariously fending off a small influx of libertarian trolls. Said trolls are typing valiantly away in an attempt to make sure that health care isn’t extended to the unwashed masses. As the argument progressed, we noticed that the resident trolls followed a familiar script and shared certain similarities with previous libertarians we’d encountered. Like their ideological comrades, these fellows miraculously manage to do it all themselves, with no help from anyone else. Despite their humble backgrounds, they are autodidacts and their pluck and wits have landed them lucrative jobs at a young age. But they still remember being poor, and all those other poor people who siphoned off the system and, well, just didn’t work hard enough as libertarians do.

Still, Randroids aren’t unkind people. They donate to charity. They just don’t want to be told to help anyone. They don’t want to be told what to do. You know who told people what to do? Hitler.

So, in honour of our libertarian friends, their commendable determination in the face of facts and basic economic theory, and their triumphant individualism, we’ve created:

Libertarian Troll Bingo

Special thanks to “Bryan” and “kevin” for pretty much making my evening.

The war on unhappiness, or turn that frown upside down before I do it for you

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

I want to know where I can get a chip for my shoulder as big as this guy’s.

I suppose if I were a six-foot, six-inch tall man with a hateful grin plastered on my face, I might suffer fewer daily reminders of how other people see me. Being a good deal shorter, and having genitals much less prominently displayed, I have to settle for an impotent “Jesus, why you feminazis gotta be so goddamn uptight?” or “Just because I spent the last five blocks leering and catcalling at you doesn’t mean I’m hitting on you, you ugly bitch, so don’t flatter yourself” when the world fails to conform to my desires.

But if I were blessed with perfect oblivion, I could take feminist hostility to people who order random women on the street to feign pleasure as a call to strengthen my crusade against surliness.

A zombie-faced sourpuss glooming up the world is the same no matter what genitals they happen to possess. I say “Smile!” And, having seen the idiocy of some of these responses, I will now be far more militant and mindful about it. It’s a war between those who mope and slouch through life and those who want to spread some love.

Amen, brother. Peace. And it’s not just out on the streets that we’re needed, I say. How many women are causing unneccesary discomfort and suffering to their sexual partners by not faking their orgasms convincingly enough? When did sexual climax become more important to us than happiness?

But we cockeyed optimists realize it may already be too late for the world. Feminists, atheists, and eyeliner-wearing goths have been allowed free reign to spread their misery and gloom far too long. It’s gotten to the point where you can’t even dismiss a woman’s concerns without being asked if you can’t pull your head out of your ass before you suffocate yourself. It’s sexism, is what it is.

If you say “People should relax and be less sensitive,” you’re a patriarch trying to control women. If you say “Abortion shouldn’t be taken lightly,” you’re a patriarch trying to control women. If you take a BREATH, you’re a patriarch trying to control women.

On Pandagon, my MALE-ness makes everything I say skewed or damaged or wrong in some way, automatically. Ironically, this is how the true sexists I’ve known in my life view women’s ideas.

“What does she know? She’s just a goddamn mouthy cunt.”

But perhaps that is Pandagon’s aim: to let ME know how it feels to be regarded as just a “mouthy cunt.” It has worked. It hurts and it angers.

The reign of the downtrodden must be stopped. We the cheerful must rise up and demand from the populace the displays of happiness we deserve.


Well said, sir. Well said.

They’ll get you, and your little dog, too

Friday, January 19th, 2007

This particular weirdo troll, who claims to be a feminist and an atheist but hates feminists and really ought to give the God-thumping thing a try, is worried that librul hedonist peer pressure is forcing young girls and boys to pick their flowers before they’re ready.

95% of girls and 89% of boys agreed that “being a virgin in high school is a good thing.”

77% of sexually active teen girls, and 60% of boys, wished they had waited longer before having sex.

24% of sexually active girls between 15 and 19 said that their first sexual experience was voluntary but unwanted.
(Moore et al, “A Statistical Report of Adolscent Sex, Contraception, and Childrearing,” National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, March 1998, pg. 11)


But, omigod, let’s not encourage abstinence, because that’s what conservatives do.

I suspect that when this troll’s preschool children bury their teary faces in his/her stomach, crying that they’re afraid of the dark because there are monsters under the bed, s/he lovingly strokes their hair and tells them they’re right, there are monsters under the bed, and in the closet too, just waiting to gobble up naughty little children who go into the dark alone.

Clearly, there’s nothing wrong with being afraid of the dark when you’re a small child, and forcing a terrified little creature into a dark room by himself and locking him in is abusive by any measure. But to a sex-hating conservative, children aren’t to be encouraged to face their fears, taught how to keep themselves safe while living as freely and fully as they can, and offered respectful guidance and support as they learn to trust the world and themselves. Frightened children are easier to control, after all, so why give up such a useful teaching tool as fear?

Where are the surveys telling us how many adults wish they hadn’t waited as long as they did before having sex? How many would have preferred not having their adolescent fears of growing up and learning to relate to other people as friends, lovers, and makeout partners validated by their parents and teachers? How much easier would it have been to grow up if they hadn’t been surrounded by people happy to keep them young?

Oh Noes! Super-Goys are waving the anti-semite card around!

Friday, July 28th, 2006

Damn, it’s too easy to snark on the bad HTML and layout of this, what? third tier? fourth? Pissant at any rate, rightie blog that has decided to attack Amanda. I mean, everything seems to be indented, and his use of tabs are ridiculous and gratuitous to say the least

Personally, there is one reason and one reason only to read a right wing blog, and that’s the pathetic tough man posturing that is a neccesary part of the Wingnut psyche (it’s funnier with the “ladies” though, because they’re not supposed to be all into the voyeuristic bloodlust thang), because guess what folks? It seems that those wingnuts who aren’t on the Post-Millenial Dispensationalist Gravy Train support Isreal’s expantionist agression because, dum dum DUM, they have teeny tiny cocks and Iraq’s not the stiffy producer it once was. (more…)