Right Thinking From The Left Coast
We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time. - Vince Lombardi

Aborted Into A Corner
by Lee

Over at The Corner, Stanley Kurtz offers his Scalito analysis.

This is a winning political move. Alito is at least as qualified as Roberts, and his Casey opinion will not sustain a convincing filibuster. The Democrats seem trapped here. Reid has warned the president not to nominate Alito. And despite the narrow and non-substantive character of Alito’s dissent in Casey, the Dems will be forced by their groups to make abortion the issue. So if there is no filibuster, this is going to come off as a huge victory for the president.

On the other hand, a failed filibuster against this qualified a nominee will be an even bigger victory. A filibuster will inundate us with repetitive analyses of the Casey decision. But there is nothing in that decision that will carry a majority of the public against Alito. Conservatives will be infuriated by the attempted “borking,” the Democrats will look obstructionist, and the filibuster will fail. If anything, that would be even better politically for the president and the Republicans.

The third, and least likely possibility, is a successful Democratic filibuster. That could only be the result of a successful borking, with major media malfeasance, and would make conservatives even madder. The result would be a gigantic election showdown with conservatives even more activated than liberals.

So every political outcome is positive. The downside is the possibility that a filibuster will hold up the larger legislative agenda. But I don’t think even moderate Republicans are politically endangered by this. They will break a filibuster and will not be punished. Moderate Democrats will be in more danger if they do filibuster. Again, I think this traps the Democrats between their own groups and the broader public. Big win for the president.

I tend to agree with this.  I also think, too, that Bush is hoping for a fight for one simple reason: he wants to clearly define the differences between Republicans and Democrats over abortion.  With the country split roughly 50/50 on this most polarizing of issues, and the Democrats sure to make abortion the central issue of the confirmation fight, this will enable Bush to show everyone, “Hey.  If you’re opposed to abortion, the only choice is the GOP.  For all my other faults, if you’re against baby murdering, you know who to vote for in 2006.” Even among the vast majority of citizens who support abortion, most don’t support unconditional abortion on demand, which is the only term the Democrats’ big-money donors will accept.  Bush is forcing his opponents to either support his nominee in order to maintain their appeal to the broader public, or to adopt the radical pro-abortion position, which will mollify their base but turtn them off to the public.

This is a smart, smart move by Bush.  Not only do we get a superb jurist of the highest caliber on the high court, but he gets to try and regain a little political capital with it.  This is the type of hardball I like seeing from this president, something we’ve seen precious too little of lately.

Update: I made a slight correction above, to change “anti-abortion” to “pro-abortion.”

Posted by Lee on 10/31/05 at 12:16 PM (Discuss this in the forums)

Comments


Posted by on 10/31/05 at 01:27 PM from United States

Gird for battle! We will break their spirit and we will delight in the weeping and lamentations of their women.

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 01:34 PM from United States

This is the type of hardball I like seeing from this president, something we’ve seen precious too little of lately.

If that doesn’t hit the nail on the head then I don’t know what does.

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 01:54 PM from United States

Rage,

That’s GOT to be a Monty Python quote.

Our host is correct - we got the fight we needed.  This could be a turning point, and it’s long overdue.

Everyone knows I’ve defended the president on most things - but not all.  I’ll defend this pick to anyone.

Good going.

TV (Harry)

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 01:54 PM from United States

This is the type of hardball I like seeing from this president, something we’ve seen precious too little of lately.

Hopefully, this signals a change for GW in that he starts to carry the fight on conservative issues more during his last 3 years in office.

If he doesn’t, I’ll never vote for a Bush again…

Posted by Jay W. on 10/31/05 at 02:06 PM from United States

Inspector Callahan:

That’s GOT to be a Monty Python quote.

I think it’s from the book of Conan:

Swordmasster: Conan!  What is best in life?

Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of the women!

Posted by Lee on 10/31/05 at 02:12 PM from United States

Callahan, it’s from Conan the Barbarian.

Mongol General: “What is best in life?”

Conan: “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.”

(Note that this is actually a quote from Ghengis Khan)

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 02:25 PM from United States

Bush is forcing his opponents to either support his nominee in order to maintain their appeal to the broader public, or to adopt the radical anti-abortion position, which will mollify their base but turtn them off to the public.

Shouldn’t that alternative be to adopt the radical pro-abortion position?  I doubt Democrats will be mollified by a radical anti-abortion position.

Posted by Nethicus on 10/31/05 at 03:21 PM from United States

Conan: “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.”

The on-campus Role Players Guild put this on a poster with a big, color close up of Arnold in his Conan gear.  It was classic.  There was another poster with Arnond’s face, wide-eyed, saying, “By Crom!”

Anyway, back to Scalito…

I predicted this.  But I thought it would be one of the arch-conservative women, like Edith Hollan Jones, or JR Brown.

Notice how the base is re-energized, going into an election year?  I would have preferred JR Brown, just because I wanted to see the Senate Dems vote against a black woman from a sharecropper background to be on the Supreme Court.

Posted by Nethicus on 10/31/05 at 03:24 PM from United States

Wow.  Look what Drudge is reporting.

What kind of asshole asks a question like that at a Press Conference?  Sloppy seconds?

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 03:44 PM from United States

Howard Dean said that by President Bush nominating Miers, he was playing “hide the salami”.

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 03:52 PM from United States

Notice how the base is re-energized

My neo-con newsletter said this was all part of yet another Rove machination.  Nominate Meirs to stir up the conservative gentry to get the real nominee pushed into SCOTUS.

It’s on page 6 next to the How To section on evil laughing and proper hand wringing.

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 04:02 PM from United States

everything is a conspiracy to the loony left.

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 04:17 PM from Slovenia

What a sad state of affairs it is in the US:
-the war on terror is being lost, with terrorists gaining more and more momentum
-the war in Iraq is a joke - how many more American deaths will it take?
-ballooning national debt
-pathetic federal response to Katrina
-cronyism and corruption throughout Bush’s inner circle

Yet the #1 issue for Dubya and the GOP is abortion… go figure.

Posted by Drumwaster on 10/31/05 at 04:22 PM from United States

how many more American deaths will it take?

Until what?

Don’t forget that this IS a war, not a murder investigation.

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 04:27 PM from United States

Razor
-the war on terror is being weakend by fools in this country who give aid to the terrorists by protesting everything the governmetn does to fight them and act as apologists.
-Iraq is going badly, but cutting and running will only make things worse.
-the national debt is the fault of both parties, and is really nothing new.
-pahtetic local and state response to Katrina is a far bigger issue than the fed response, as they are in charge of most of the work in the first few days.
-Clinton had far more of his Cabinet and inner circle indicted than Bush has.

Abortion is a big issue for a large section of the population on both sides of the issue.  Besides, the Supreme Court decides more then just issues concerning abortion.

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 04:36 PM from United States

Remember the soldier who said he was enlisting because he was afraid to leave the fate of the country to the whining candy-asses?

He must’ve known Razor…

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 04:44 PM from United States

Razor - Please explain how it is Bush’s fault that the Iranian leader recently said that Israel should be wiped off the map. I know you believe that and am anxious to hear your reasoning.

Posted by Drumwaster on 10/31/05 at 04:54 PM from United States

Please explain how it is Bush’s fault that the Iranian leader recently said that Israel should be wiped off the map.

That’s EASY! If Bush had been obeying the strictures of Allah (yech) and Mohammed (ptui), he would have already bombed the hated Joooos back to the Dust Age, and so the Iranian President would not have been tempted into revealing the Sooper-Sekrit Islamic Plan To Take Over the World by his righteous anger against their very existence.

For is it not written that “Non-Muslims had better give us everything We Want, O Muslim, because otherwise we shall accuse them of being uncaring and anti-Muslim, and then their own people will Fall over themselves to give us victory Even while we are getting our Asses handed to us everywhere else”?

If not, it should have been, because that’s exactly what is happening.

Posted by ? on 10/31/05 at 05:07 PM from United States

the national debt is the fault of both parties, and is really nothing new?

PLEASE.

david

Posted by LandoGriffin on 10/31/05 at 05:12 PM from United States

What a sad state of affairs it is in the US

Wow its so weird to hear someone who is pessimistic and self loathing say things associated with Democrat/liberal talking points? I guess its just a coincidence?

-the war on terror is being lost, with terrorists gaining more and more momentum

Care to source? Have you personally been to the MidEast lately? Firsthand knowledge? Or we should take your opinion (the one fed to the rest of you sheep) as fact?

the war in Iraq is a joke - how many more American deaths will it take?

Like Drum said - “until what?” You say “joke”, I say whats so damn funny about it? I mean your side celebrates every military death by busting a nut - but to us regular folks (we call ourselves Normies) don’t find it funny and in fact support (in the real sense of the word - not the spun version your side has come up with) our military.

-cronyism and corruption throughout Bush’s inner circle

Yes indeed, one guy, the VP’s chief of staff - is WIDESPREAD! And being indicted with perjury and obstruction of justice is something to be outraged with. I bet when Clinton was charged with the same thing you were livid, right?

Yet the #1 issue for Dubya and the GOP is abortion… go figure.

Ok by nominating someone qualified to the Supreme Court, which he not only has to do but as President is entitled to do, that means abortion is #1 on the agenda? Great logic. Tell us, exactly who would you have liked him to nominate? (Forgive us if we don’t expect to hear solutions from your side) From now on just preface everything you say with “No matter what Bush does it will never satisfy me...”

We get it, you hate Bush. We’ve known this since 2000. And your hatred for Bush motivates your pathetic self loathing, Hate America first life. You’re not saying anything new, but you feel the need to come here and post the same ol’ tired talking points - do you feel better about yourself now? Do you feel you’ve helped your cause? Well thats good, lets pat you on the head, give you a drink of water and tuck you back into bed - the adults are talking now.

Posted by Drumwaster on 10/31/05 at 05:13 PM from United States

Posted by dog on 10/31 at 03:07 PM

the national debt is the fault of both parties, and is really nothing new?

PLEASE.

I’d have a tendency to blame The Great Society, wherein government took upon itself the responsibility to feed the sick, lame and lazy at the expense of the productive citizen.

Punish success and subsidize failure is NOT the way you manage a budget.

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 06:24 PM from United States

-the war in Iraq is a joke - how many more American deaths will it take?

My favoriet part of this is the fact that we still lost more people on September 11th than we have in this entire war.

Posted by salinger on 10/31/05 at 06:39 PM from United States

Abortion is a big issue for a large section of the population on both sides of the issue.  Besides, the Supreme Court decides more then just issues concerning abortion.

I’ve often wondered why the supreme court is deciding this anyway (under the guise of privacy). Why doesn’t abortion go to a ballot?

Last I heard 66% of the American public favored a women’s right to choose. Why is this even an issue?

And to make it even more fair - only women should be allowed to vote on it.

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 08:48 PM from United States

Last I heard 66% of the American public favored a women’s right to choose. Why is this even an issue?

200 years ago I bet the majority of Americans agreed slavery was just. Consensus makes no differnce on right or wrong.

And to make it even more fair - only women should be allowed to vote on it.

You’re right, kids only ever effect women.

Posted by Drumwaster on 10/31/05 at 08:51 PM from United States

Consensus makes no differnce on right or wrong.

Who decides that “right” and “wrong”? Your own personal version of Diety?

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 08:59 PM from United States

Abortion will never again be illegal in the United States. If the Supremes overturn Roe v. Wade, it will be left up to the states to decide (as it should be) and you know that most of the blue states(California, New York and Taxachusetts come to mind) will legalize it. This is not an issue that should be the deciding factor when it comes to approving a nominee to the Supreme Court. Razor says that it’s the “neocons” that are making it an issue, but all I hear from the dems is “Will he pass the abortion litmus test?”. It was the same question they asked about Miers. I’m just glad that President Bush grew a spine and nominated a real conservative. I was hoping that he’d nominate Ken Starr so that Teddy Chappaquiddick would have a seizure and expire. We should be so lucky.

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 09:06 PM from United States

Who decides that “right” and “wrong”? Your own personal version of Diety?

Actually Drum I have never made a Diety, so I assume you mean the Judeo-Christian God, and in that case yes he decides what is right and wrong. But I don’t think that illegalizing abortion is legislating a moral beleif anymore than illegalizing assault or rape is.

Abortion isn’t a state issue anymore than slavery was. History ahs shown us time and time again that just because a large group of people agree about something it can still be a a horrible idea.

Posted by Drumwaster on 10/31/05 at 09:48 PM from United States

and in that case yes he decides what is right and wrong.

Can you show me the word ‘abortion’ in either the Bible or the Constitution? Or the prohibition against it in ANY other religious texts?

Because otherwise it seems to me that you are putting words in His mouth, and that seems just a beet pretentious, wouldn’t you agree?

And doesn’t the Bible say “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book”? It’s… like… one of the VERY last things in the whole Bible…

Yet, here you are…

Posted by californianative on 10/31/05 at 10:03 PM from United States

You’re not saying anything new, but you feel the need to come here and post the same ol’ tired talking points - do you feel better about yourself now? Do you feel you’ve helped your cause? Well thats good, lets pat you on the head, give you a drink of water and tuck you back into bed - the adults are talking now.

If only! This world would be easier to endure, that is for sure. And I would suspect these issues may be resolved and alot quicker.

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 10:33 PM from United States

Because otherwise it seems to me that you are putting words in His mouth, and that seems just a beet pretentious, wouldn’t you agree?

6. Thou shalt not kill.

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 10:51 PM from United States

Actually, the correct translation is closer to Thou shalt not commit murder, but it still applies here.

Posted by Drumwaster on 10/31/05 at 10:56 PM from United States

That says nothing about abortion, and I dispute your assertion that a first-trimester abortion is “killing”.

Not to mention the fact that the word isn’t “kill”, it’s “murder”, which implies a moral standard. What about killing to defend the innocent or stop aggressive behavior? Is that a sin? More importantly, is it wrong? What about executing murderers? Isn’t that prohibited by the Commandment?

(IOW, religion is NOT the argument to make when arguing against abortion, Dirk.)

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 11:01 PM from United States

Can you show me the word ‘abortion’ in either the Bible or the Constitution? Or the prohibition against it in ANY other religious texts?

There are many words we have today that were never used back then. Just like marriage was for ONE man and ONE woman, now we have to come up with a NEW word with a NEW meaning for every other type of marriage that people want to have. Just like hyphenated word play.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to search for some cool, radical bling-bling on ebay. w00t :) 133t 4sur. Ya dig? Know what I b sain homie? These words embiggens the smallest man. They are all very cromulent.

Posted by Drumwaster on 10/31/05 at 11:09 PM from United States

There are many words we have today that were never used back then.

And many scientific facts are known today and new medical advancements are available today and new concepts are being discussed and…

Are you arguing in favor of religion having to adapt to new situations and information, or are you arguing that the religion should remain forever inflexible in its moral strictures, regardless of new revelations?

{Yet another reason why religion is the wrong way to argue against abortion}

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 11:14 PM from United States

6. Thou shalt not kill.

Does this mean in order to survive we must only feast upon still-living animals and plants?

Posted by Kevin on 10/31/05 at 11:22 PM from United States

6.  Thou shalt not kill.

It’s actually “thou shalt not murder.”

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 11:31 PM from United States

And what is murder, exactly, according to Him™?

Posted by mikeguas on 10/31/05 at 11:40 PM from United States

Be careful with the Scalito references, some Italian groups are getting upset. As an American of Italian descent, I’d like to say lighten the fuck up. Jesus, does everyone have to be a whining minority?

Posted by Drumwaster on 10/31/05 at 11:41 PM from United States

And what is murder, exactly, according to Him™?

It’s certainly not the slaughter of innocent babies. (Psalm 137:9)

It’s certainly not the slaughter of men, women and all male children (leaving only the virgin girls). (Numbers 31:15-18)

Posted by on 10/31/05 at 11:42 PM from United States

Various Christians seem to have various ideas of what forms of killing are acceptable.

Quite a lot of the same Christians that oppose abortion, supported the war in Iraq, for instance. What is it about killing some poor schlep that was indoctrinated into the Iraqi military that is acceptable, while killing your own seed is not?

Some say that according to the bible, killing is forbidden when it is done in anger or hatred. Something about murder beginning in the mind. But for the most part, abortion has nothing to do with anger or hatred.

So what really are the acceptable guidelines for taking the life of another human?

Posted by mikeguas on 10/31/05 at 11:47 PM from United States

Personally, I just hope they ban government funded abortions. If someone wants to get one, great. I just shouldn’t have to be forced to pay for it.

Posted by on 11/01/05 at 12:00 AM from United States

My view is that it is something that should be decided by the people one way or another. If they want to hold a national referendum on allowing / banning abortion, I would be all for that, and support it either way it went. Or if they want to make it a state by state decision, I would support that too.

What I don’t support is letting 9 judges either to universally allow it, or universally ban it, based upon their interpretation of a document that does not address it. It’s not an issue that is addressed in the Constitution, so if it’s such an important and divisive issue, and it must be addressed by the government at all, then it should be addressed by the legislature, preferably as the result of some kind of referendum.

Posted by HARLEY on 11/01/05 at 12:01 AM from United States

If i remember correctly even Jesus thought it was acceptable to keep and bear arms.... and use them…
oh yeah there is “acceptable killing"… even God admitted that....
which god you as?............ uh all of them..

Posted by on 11/01/05 at 01:10 AM from United States

If they want to hold a national referendum on allowing / banning abortion, I would be all for that,

Have we ever had a national referendum on anything?

If we can, I would propose holding one on abolishing social security first… Fuck you grandma!!!

Posted by Drumwaster on 11/01/05 at 01:15 AM from United States

Have we ever had a national referendum on anything?

Given that Presidential elections are technically a conglomerate of (currently) fifty separate Statewide elections, a national referendum has never been held on any issue.

Posted by mikeguas on 11/01/05 at 01:57 AM from United States

If they want to hold a national referendum on allowing / banning abortion, I would be all for that, and support it either way it went.

Seriously, we don’t want to go down that road. We start holding referendums, it will be a disaster. Here in California, people can vote on referendums, and many do it with little more than the knowledge of a TV ad, or an editorial in a paper.  Absolute rule by majority was never the intention of the framers of the Constitution, and can easily result in the destruction of the country.

Abortion is just a tough one, because the government has no business telling anyone what one can do with their own body, but needs to exist to provide justice to someone who has been harmed. The question is when is the fetus a human being with abilities that are of human quality? Certainly 3 months or so are pretty safe to believe that no such qualities exist. Some sort of scientific estimate should be drawn first, and then the laws should go from there. One thing that isn’t a tough one though is whether or not a person should be force to pay for one against their will. The only thing Americans are required to pay for is defense, and general welfare, which was intended to be things like courts, not socialized welfare, be it individuals or corporate, domestic or foreign.

Posted by on 11/01/05 at 02:45 AM from United States

Well, I didn’t actually mean a single national referendum, though they work well in many countries. Where I live we have referendums on pretty much every state issue, and they work out just fine. We also have state referendums for most Senate and House bills, and for the most part our representatives vote in Congress along the lines of the state referendums. What I am suggesting is not some drastic change in the way the country does business, but to put the issues to a vote in every state, and have the representatives from those states represent the people in Congress. That’s the way it should be. Certainly better than having the representatives vote the way their biggest fund raisers want them to vote.

The people in California may be stupid, but the country sure as hell isn’t doing that well just by electing representatives and letting them do what the hell they want to do without much input from the people. People make dumb decisions when voting for their senators and congressmen, I dont see how it would be any worse letting them vote on the individual issues. It might actually give them a little more incentive to learn what they are voting for.

And who is it that decided that a fetus displaying human abilities is the bar for which they should be protected? Sounds like a personal view to me.

Posted by mikeguas on 11/01/05 at 03:06 AM from United States

And who is it that decided that a fetus displaying human abilities is the bar for which they should be protected? Sounds like a personal view to me.

Well it is a personal view, but a logical one, I believe. Some line has to be draw. It’s pretty obvious someone that is 8 months along can more than likely survive outside the womb. That’s pretty much human life at that point. If the argument is they are still dependant on someone else, then some goes for a two month old baby. If they argument is they have no memory of that time, then the same goes for a two month old baby. So what’s the difference of chopping the head of an 8 month old fetus, or a two month old baby? Some line has to be drawn on this. I think that’s just common sense. At some point in time a group of cells turns into a human life. Science should play a role in determining that, and that time frame should be the basis of whether it is government protecting a human being or government meddling with a choice of a woman.

Certainly better than having the representatives vote the way their biggest fund raisers want them to vote.

I agree, but it would be better if the people of this country (the fourth branch) started demanding that the government actually follow the Constitution which would eliminate 90%+ of the stupid laws and taxes we have in this nation. It is probably too late for that though. I guess we’ll just have to start over when everything really goes to shit, which may not be too far ahead.

Posted by on 11/01/05 at 11:17 AM from United States

(IOW, religion is NOT the argument to make when arguing against abortion, Dirk.)

How about each PERSON being endowed by the CREATOR with the right to LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of........

Posted by on 11/01/05 at 11:18 AM from United States

Sorry if I butchered the line, but you should get my drift....

Posted by Drumwaster on 11/01/05 at 11:55 AM from United States

First, that isn’t the Constitution, that was the Declaration of Independence.

Second, that quote is “...that all MEN are created equal, that THEY are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness...”

Third, that would require that the individual be able to stand up and assert those rights to the Government.

Fourth, I still deny your religious assertion that a fetus is “alive”, until such time as he/she can survive on its own outside the womb. (Medical science is pushing that back farther and farther, but not to the point of conception.)

Posted by on 11/01/05 at 05:15 PM from United States

Drum:  I don’t want to argue with you because I respect a lot of what you do here, but I can’t let this slide:

1) Never said it was from the Constitution.  Don’t put words in my mouth.

2) I admitted in the next post that I may have gotten the exact words wrong, but please feel free to bitch about it like you often do.  It feeds the ego beast, I guess.

3) Your contention that the individual “be able to stand up and assert those rights” as a prerequisite for “human” status is just the kind of stuff that endangers the innocent in our society.  Why not just kill all the retarded or other handicapped lumps of tissue who cannot speak for themselves?  They surely aren’t human and eleigble for any sort of pretection by your standard.  And how about them geezers with dementia.  They cannot speak for themselves.  I know you don’t advocate things like this.  Don’t add terms to the definition of “human”, however.  A humans ability to defend itself cannot possibly determine how “human” it is.

Personally, I’ll give the abortionists the first trimester (as a legal period for killing the fetus, that is).  The Pandora’s box has been opened and no effort can close it.  I would demand that the practice of partial-birth abortion be made illegal except in cases of danger to the mother. 

I agree with Lee that RoevWade should be overturned and that this is a states rights issue, also.  But I cannot possibly see how anyone will adequately define when a nonviable tissue mass becomes “human”.

Dave D.

Posted by Drumwaster on 11/01/05 at 05:30 PM from United States

1) Never said it was from the Constitution.  Don’t put words in my mouth.

I never said you did. But you were attempting to answer my question, which specifically mentioned the Constitution and any religious texts. The DoI is not a religious text in any sense of the word, and it is not a legally binding document. It does not answer the question. (If I had asked for a cookie recipe, and you respond with an anecdote about a pie you remember making, should I rapturously fall down and kiss your feet in thanks?)

I admitted in the next post that I may have gotten the exact words wrong, but please feel free to bitch about it like you often do.  It feeds the ego beast, I guess.

I wasn’t criticizing. The term is “correcting” as you post seemed to invite. If you want me to start criticizing you for every one of your errors, I’m gonna want a salary.

3) Your contention that the individual “be able to stand up and assert those rights” as a prerequisite for “human” status is just the kind of stuff that endangers the innocent in our society.  Why not just kill all the retarded or other handicapped lumps of tissue who cannot speak for themselves?  They surely aren’t human and eleigble for any sort of pretection by your standard.  And how about them geezers with dementia.  They cannot speak for themselves.  I know you don’t advocate things like this.  Don’t add terms to the definition of “human”, however.  A humans ability to defend itself cannot possibly determine how “human” it is.

No, but the whole point of the LEGAL protections offered means that there is a required LEGAL definition and someone to actually be able to stand up and assert those rights.

All of those examples you bring up all have one thing in common: they have been born. That is to say, they have drawn breath. I did not specify any kind of mental or emotional capability, but they have to meet the definition of “alive”.

Come up with a definition of “life” that covers all of those circumstances, yet manages to exclude things like tumors, and we will see where that leads us.

Posted by on 11/01/05 at 06:12 PM from United States

3) Your contention that the individual “be able to stand up and assert those rights” as a prerequisite for “human” status is just the kind of stuff that endangers the innocent in our society.  Why not just kill all the retarded or other handicapped lumps of tissue who cannot speak for themselves?  They surely aren’t human and eleigble for any sort of pretection by your standard.  And how about them geezers with dementia.  They cannot speak for themselves.

Actually, these issues of what constitutes life are likely to be among the more important over the coming century.  Not necessarily abortion (although I have yet to see many arguments that don’t boil down to “my pastor told me that the bible says so"), but broader issues of new forms of life.  Genetic engineering and artificial inteligence research both have the potential to create non-human sentients.  How will our legal system respond to this?  Debates about abortion and the proper scope of legal rights are thus critical now, before these issues appear.

Of course, we haven’t even begun to formulate the discussion in a way which opens up these possibilities.  I agree that fetuses are neither alive nor do they display the basic factors of consciousness necessary to even enter into a social system, let alone the particular form of legal measures built around human interaction.

However, things only get more complicated from here on.  People talk about viability as a demarcator and now there is talk of pushing viability back to conception due to technologies like artificial wombs.  The current terms of the debate are inadequate.  Personally, although I don’t think babies are capable of claiming human rights, I put the standard at birth both for political reasons (it provides a clear demarcation) and personal (while I have no more abstract objection to the painless elimination of newborns than I do to slaughtering animals for meat (I think a pig is more emotionally complex and aware than a newborn), I can’t emotionally accept it).  The “potential” argument has never struck me as a strong one.

That said, I think that this debate is going to be very difficult to progress (nationally, not just on this forum) because religion comes into play.  When people feel that they have a monopoly on absolute truth, it is hard to change minds.  Hell, it is hard to agree on terms for discussion.  In spite of that, I think it’s worth the effort.  Not just for this issue, but for all of the issues relating to these basic terms that are going to be appearing in the coming years.

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