Skepticism

Skepchick Quickies, 5.6

Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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57 Comments

  1. I love the fact that the pro-“life” is being so public about opposing the birth control pill now, because it lays bare a simple fact that feminists have been pointing out for a long time: opposite to abortion has absolutely nothing to do with protecting babies and everything to do with punishing those filthy sluts who enjoy having sex. I hope they put even more emphasis on opposing birth control going forward, because all it does is show the world their true colours.

  2. I was going to comment but it looks like Joshua has my point covered already.

    Love the comment about the Florida school firing, though. Snark is more than called for these days.

  3. I like how ” It kills babies!” seems to make every argument stronger for a certain segment of the population. I think that I will start using it:

    “Not getting your child vaccinated KILLS BABIES!”

    “Relying on miracles instead of medicine KILLS BABIES!”

    “War in Iraq KILLS BABIES!”

    See, it works every time!

  4. So what happens when they mix the “KILLS BABIES” argument with “NAZI HITLER” arguements?

    Do the two Godwins cancel out , or does the logic impasse cause their communal brain cell to implode?

  5. Using words like unborn and preborn assumes that birth will actually follow the fertilization of an ovum. Isn’t it true that more fertilized ovum don’t come to term? Shouldn’t viable fetuses be referred to as undead?

  6. Hmm….undead balstocysts shambing along moaning ‘Brains’? Could be a tough call – I mean who would be afraid of a monster you have to use a microscope to see?

    “Holy crap they are coming to kill us! We’re doomed!”
    “What?”
    “Look here, and dial it up to 200X power…”
    “Uh…right……”

    The other catch is if it was never alive it cant technically be dead or undead. So technically they are un-alive…which is about as scary as a shovel. Though I suppose the car Carrie was un-alive as well….

  7. A Modest Proposal is looking more like a reasonable solution for these crazy anti-choicers every day.

    Also, if Florida school officials are so concerned about wizardry, shouldn’t they be terrified of the hex that this man has surely placed upon their heads now?

  8. James Fox: So let me get this straight. The pre-born babies are not yet killed, and the fertilized ovum’s are the undead??? Dont let Quentin Tarantino hear about this

    I suppose that if one accepts the term “unborn” which implies that birth is inevitable, then pretty much any living thing is undead until, ya know, it dies (which is inevitable), including you and me.

  9. Since evolutionary theory is the foundation of our modern understanding of biology, neglecting evolution education can result in a decline in the quality and availability of medical care.

    That’s right

    High-hatting the monkey KILLS BABIES!

  10. Well following everyone’s logic I’m thinking you could have a Schroedingers cat situtation where born/unborn/preborn/dead/undead/predead/predistressed/rinse/repeat exist in the same condition until observed.

    Ow my brain hurts I’m going to lay down now.

  11. durnett, you have it all wrong.

    High hatting the monkey saves babies.

    It is the Christians who high hat the monkey (by refusing to admit he is their cousin) that don’t use birth control or abort their preborns.

    Atheists are the ones not high hatting him. They have abortions all the time so that children don’t interfere with all the gay sex they have.

  12. More evidence that “pro-life” ideology exists for the purpose of keeping women (barefoot and) pregnant, i.e. keeping women from having lives/opportunities. Nice.

  13. Elyse: “Atheists are the ones not high hatting him. They have abortions all the time so that children don’t interfere with all the gay sex they have.”

    Elyse, you’re causing me more confusion… .

    So what you’re saying is that high hated baby monkeys grow up to be gay atheists??

  14. Is the wire monkey the one that the baby monkey had as its mom in that experiment?

    …and, I have this thing where if I’m unfamiliar with a term, even if I understand it contextually, I can’t deal with it until I know what it actually means. Like how I used to be with “woo”, which was nicely cleared up a while back. So,uh, like what’s with the high hatting of a monkey?

  15. I just took the first one of those survers and I have to say there are some weird statements in there… “Most of the buildings in America are more than 4000 years old”, etc. I kind of felt like just answering some of them wrong for kicks but then chickened out.

  16. Yeah , I took 2 of the surveys and got a weird question also. It was something like if you received mail order lice ,would you put them in your underwear? I thought where in the world did they pull that from.

  17. We’ve been over this before, but as far as I can tell, the pro-lifers are right about this and its folks like pandagon who are dissembling.

    The basic issues are:

    1) crazy or no, pro-lifers consider conception, not implantation, the start of “new life”
    2) the pill is not 100% successful at preventing the release of eggs and their subsequent fertilization
    3) the pill does change the lining of the uterus such that the implantation of a fertilized egg is more likely to fail

    Pretty much all the scientific evidence is on the table for the prima facie case, and indeed, manufacturers of the pill list implantation-prevention as one of the contraceptive mechanisms by which it works. No one knows for sure how often this effect comes into play, because it’s extremely difficult to find or keep track fertilized by non-implanted eggs/embryos.

    Now, none of that even comes close to raising any moral concerns for me. But if you accept the first premise then it isn’t crazy or psuedo-science to think that the pill increases the chances of a fertilized egg and then a spontaneous abortion (i.e. miscarriage). And yes, I know that spontaneous abortions happen all the time naturally. I’m not trying to justify their entire argument, simply point that the part that is being portrayed as crazy is not.

    It makes far more sense to simply concede that the use of the pill could lead to increased spontaneous abortion and then to point out that there’s nothing bad about that in the first place. That’s a position worth defending: not the scientifically dubious idea that somehow the pill has no chance of inducing the loss of a fertilized embryo.

  18. Bad – this much is true, but when talking of instances of possible abortions, not using the pill can lead to many more than a few spontaneous ones. Statistically speaking, the pill is still going to reduce the abortion rate.

    Plus, this particular site and campaign is doing a lot more than argue on the grounds you laid out. They are also disseminating information about untrue health effects, twisted to serve their political purposes. They are clearly not basing their arguments on the logic and science you just offered, but on a specific faith-based political agenda. In this case, I don’t think it’s going too far to dismiss any of their claims as “crazy.” If any pro-lifer launched a campaign in the way you just set your argument, I would be more than willing to listen and agree. But that is not what this group is doing, and I think they deserve a bit of derision.

  19. @Jen – You’re talking about two different abortion rates: spontaneous (a.k.a. miscarriage) vs. induced. The pill is touted as reducing the rate of induced abortions. Science (as you and Bad know) proves that the pill itself can cause early abortions. So the pill really just shifts the abortion from later in the pregnancy to very early.

    I don’t think anyone argues about the number of spontaneous abortions. Pro-lifers think it’s God’s Will (or just a natural occurrence), and pro-choicers think it’s just tissue.

  20. Aflusche – What I was doing is comparing those two rates. The amount of induced abortions without the pill is higher than the rate of spontaneous abortions with it. The issue here is that pro-lifers arguing against a loss of life are allowing a statistically greater loss of life by fighting the use of the pill. I believe that’s the hypocrisy Pandagon was trying to bring to light in the original linked story.

  21. @Jen – First of all, I don’t concede that there is greater loss of life without the pill than with it. I don’t know that anyone can accurately say how many fertilized eggs fail to implant in either case.

    But beyond that, using the pill is taking a direct action that is intended (at least in part) to prevent the fertilized egg from implanting. Without the pill, some fertilized eggs will fail to implant, but no human action caused that. I don’t see any hypocrisy here. It’s completely natural to die at some point, but it’s not natural for someone to murder you.

  22. It’s completely natural to die at some point, but it’s not natural for someone to murder you.

    Scuazzi-ma? Murder? Just for clarification, do you view the zygote or embryo as already fully human?

    Also, does anyone have any citation comparing the rates of spontaneous abortion with those of intentional induced abortion?

  23. @Rav – I was not arguing that the pill is murdering babies. I was trying to point out the difference between nature taking its course and man stepping in to interfere.

    Yes, I am pro-life. I believe human life begins at fertilization. But I hope we can still have an engaging discussion. I came here to discuss why it’s not “crazy” to say that the pill isn’t such a good thing.

  24. Rav is right – some cited statistics would seem to help us all out here. Unfortunately, I don’t have any – but I was working from the reasonable assumption that the pill is used by women who understand that their situation, for whatever reason, is not a good one for childbearing and that if a pregnancy occurred, it would have a greater likelihood of being terminated than in the case of women not using the pill. It’s not simply a case of fertilized eggs not implanting naturally.

    However, Bad stated perfectly in the last paragraph of his comment what this boils down to:

    It makes far more sense to simply concede that the use of the pill could lead to increased spontaneous abortion and then to point out that there’s nothing bad about that in the first place.

    I also want to point out that not all pro-choicers think of any abortion, spontaneous or induced, as the loss of “just tissue.” I’m a mother and could never think such a thing. I have been through the experiences of being a young single mother without a lot of help and with a ton of judgment, and I understand firsthand how the decision to have a child (or not to have a child) is not a simple or painless one.

    I agree that someone not liking the pill is not necessarily “crazy,” and I see a lot of value in Bad’s suggested tactics. But I do not agree with a campaign that doesn’t tell the truth about all of the pill’s medical uses or that doesn’t take into account the widespread societal problems and pressures that are a part of women’s reality. What I think is crazy is this particular propaganda – not individuals with a sensible argument.

  25. I don’t care about the statistics or even if some of the pro-life stuff is correct. It’s my fucking body and no-body — especially the government or a man — has a right to tell me that I have to have a baby or that I can’t have sex just for fun.

    (OK, stopping and breathing. Which is why I never write about this topic, because it really pisses me off.)

  26. It’s all right, Andrew, I understand the point you were making.

    My opinion is that it’s not just a binary either/or definition, or that there is even a definition that can fit every situation. I think we can all agree that here is the potential for life – but I think exactly what potential exists depends largely on the circumstances into which that life would be born. And what that potential would be can really only be decided by the person who understand the circumstances the best – namely, the pregnant, or possibly pregnant, woman. The life potential of a child born to a comfortable family is not the same of a child born to a teenager on her own, or to a rape victim, or to any woman without access to proper medical care (which is a lot of them in American society), or to a woman who already has many children to care for. And adoption is not always a successful alternative, nor does it mean the the mother will not suffer medical issues like post-partum depression or more serious dangers. I think the potential of the mother’s life is also important. So there are a ton of factors that can go into determining what needs to be done.

    I would love nothing more than to see a world without abortion. Personally, I love being a mother and my daughter is my world. But I am fortunate. Not every woman is as fortunate as I am, and that’s what we need to fix. Until it’s fixed, though, we need choices.

    This has strayed from the beginning topic – I really didn’t intend to make this an “abortion” thread, but it has been interesting and enlightening.

  27. Flusche said: Without the pill, some fertilized eggs will fail to implant, but no human action caused that.

    Actually, recent reports (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=babies-sex-linked-to-mothers-breakfast-calories) are that a woman’s nutritional status at the time of conception greatly influences whether or not an embryo will be viable, specifically whether or not a male embryo will implant and become a viable fetus. Drug use, alcohol, stress, etc.–all sorts of human behavior that can occur prior to knowing that one is pregnant can have an impact on whether or not a fertilized ovum will develop into a fetus or not. Hence the multiple warnings along the lines, “women who are pregnant or intend to become pregnant should not …” use the product described. Now, unless you are talking about monitoring all women of childbearing age (actually, I think the caveat used to be “women of childbearing age,” but fortunately they changed it) throughout their fertility for anything that might lower the chance of a possibly fertilized egg coming to term, and I REALLY hope you are not, your claim is not valid.

  28. Bad,

    No one knows for sure how often this effect comes into play, because it’s extremely difficult to find or keep track fertilized by non-implanted eggs/embryos.

    You just need a better flashlight.

  29. Plus, this particular site and campaign is doing a lot more than argue on the grounds you laid out.

    Well, yes. But that’s not what I commented on, in large part because that’s all non-controversial here: we all know and agree that their claims there are batty.

    All that’s at issue for me is whether or not it’s psuedoscience, as people like those at pandagon are claiming, to say that the pill can potentially cause the rejection of a fertilized embryo. It’s not. Our side doesn’t get to get away with bogus science just because we’re the “good guys.”

    You just need a better flashlight.

    Let me know when someone invents a flashlight capable of resolving and tracking a single cell or cell mass floating around in an area made up of millions and millions of similar cells. :)

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