Abort, abort!

By   /   March 25, 2014  /   135 Comments

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Make no mistake: powerful extremists are the people controlling the pro-life lobby. And they’re not taken as lightly as you might think in a secular country like New Zealand.

pro-choice

Abortion is illegal in New Zealand.

We get around the illegality, because we are civilised. We don’t abide our citizens having to seek unsafe procedures that endanger their lives.

As per the Crimes Act 1961, if the foetus is impaired or the product of incest, then we can get a legal abortion. If not, then instead, multiple doctors agree we are insane, or that pregnancy could make us insane, or could be a danger to our physical well-being. Only then can we get a safe, legal abortion.

We don’t like to lie, but we put up with it because this is not acceptable (warning: that is a really graphic image, and it is real, and I refuse to take it out, because I think we need to understand that actual human lives are at stake and are worth more than fertilised ova glued to uterine tissue ).

But there are people out there who want to make it worse again for women. They want us to go back to the days of the backstreet coat-hanger abortion.

They call themselves ‘pro-lifers’ – but they’re not really pro life. They’re not pro my life, for example, or yours. They’re only pro potential life.

They believe that an early foetus inside a uterus (even a zygote) is equal to a breathing, eating, laughing, viable human being with thoughts and feelings. And while they pretend to have a science base, in reality their entire lobby is founded on quotes from the Bible. It is a very vocal movement, and a conservative one. NZ’s Voice for Life is linked with several US-based groups whose entire foundations rest on old-testament religious nastiness.

Make no mistake: powerful extremists are the people controlling the pro-life lobby. And they’re not taken as lightly as you might think in a secular country like New Zealand.

One of the most influential people in our government, Judith Collins, supported a 2004 legislative amendment backed by pro-life group Voice For Life, which would have required enforced parental notification and consent for under-16 year olds intending to have an abortion (presumably so religious parents could make their children give birth to babies they actually didn’t want to have, which ugh). Add to this that the father of a pregnant teen quite regularly turns out to be the father of her baby too, and you can see why ALRANZ, the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand, consisting of NZ Medical Association and NZ College of General Practitioner members – medical professionals who actually understand the reasons people choose abortion – opposed the amendment so vigorously (and ultimately successfully).

But it’s still illegal for someone to have an abortion if they simply don’t want to have a child right now; if they aren’t interested in breeding; if they already have the perfect number of children for them; if they don’t feel like they’re mature enough to look after a baby.

In 2010 Labour MP Steve Chadwick proposed an Abortion Reform Bill to take abortion out of the Crimes Act, effectively decriminalising it. But Chadwick didn’t return to Parliament after the 2011 election, so ALRANZ and its parliamentary supporters are trying to find a new sponsor for the proposed bill to decriminalise abortion (email your MP!).

So when it comes to terminating an unwanted pregnancy in NZ, unless you’re ill, you’re still illegal. People who live in rural areas have it especially tough. The three big city appointments usually required for an abortion are all but impossible for, say, someone at high school who may not wish to involve their parents in ending their unwanted pregnancy.

And then there’s what can happen at the gates.

If you’ve ever gone in for an abortion or attended one as a support person, you may have already experienced pro-lifers.

A man (yeah, it’s usually a man) hurries up to you and yells at you about murder, shows you fake pictures of supposedly aborted foetuses, and tries to persuade you that there is a better way – adoption! (No, HE’s not planning on adopting it. Someone else will.) Here’s a number. Look at this leaflet. There is another way. It’s easy to adopt out. (Yeah, great, give your child to someone like them to raise.) They call themselves things like Voice for Life, or Right to Life.

At the moment, we are halfway through the so-called ‘40-day Vigil For Life‘ in which extremists pray for an end to abortion from March 5th to April 13th.

Luckily, prayer doesn’t work (never has, and never will). Because it’s not just abortion they oppose. They’re against contraception, too. God has a plan for us all, according to them, and we should have no say in whether or not we become pregnant.

Any woman who finds she has a fertilised ovum in her uterine lining and doesn’t want to remain pregnant should not be forced to breed against her will.

But this is what they want.

In real life, there ain’t nobody going Hey what you up to this week and getting OH I THOUGHT I’D HAVE A FEW ABORTIONS in reply. People terminate pregnancies as an unhappy last resort, not a convenient first option. Nobody enjoys it. But people who don’t want to be pregnant really don’t want to be pregnant, and it’s utterly their choice.

That is why the very presence of pro-lifers outside reproductive health clinics is harassment. They’re not peacefully protesting legislation; they’re not marching in Queen St against proposed parliamentary actions. They’re harassing citizens who are seeking private medical treatment relating to their own personal lives.

The other day I happened to be going past the site at Dominion Rd, where four zealots stood praying and holding signs opposite the clinic.

WELL. I will confess that I broke all the rules to stop and give them hell. I bumped across half a footpath and right in the ‘out’ bit of the supermarket carpark. I screeched to a stop and got out of my car empty-handed. I was in such a rage don’t even remember walking up to them.

The arguments they threw out did nothing to appease me.

God has a plan for every human being. And life starts before conception. It’s a scientific fact.” (But when there isn’t any evidence that gods even exist, then what?)

Maybe you should close your legs if you don’t want to be pregnant.” (What about men closing their legs? Oh wait – you only want to control women’s behaviour.)

It’s our religious right to protest child murder.” (A fetus is not a child by any reality-based definition, and actually, lady, in a secular country, you don’t have the right to take other people’s rights away because of your beliefs.)

It’s a man’s right to have the baby he conceived.” (OH IT’S ABOUT MEN’S RIGHTS AGAIN. Well, he’s welcome to have it if he wants to give birth to it!)

Why don’t you shut your whore mouth?” (No.)

Women’s purpose in life is to bear children. There’s no point otherwise.” (So, what, do we just kill the grannies and gays and barrens and any woman whose male partner is sterile?)

Sluts who give it away deserve everything they get.” (So babies are a religious punishment for consensual sex with your partner? What about married women who have three kids and don’t want a fourth but the condom breaks?)

You’re just selfish.” (Yeah, so selfish I don’t want to inflict more unwanted kids on the world.)

According to them, at all costs, all foetuses must continue to fruition, because GODS.

At one point, a stranger twice my size came over and pressed his body to mine. Two women dropped their shopping and rushed over to support me. Things became chaotic; he was intimidating and verbally abusive. He pushed himself up against us, called us whores and sluts, told us he would use a hook to abort our faces, told us we should be killed if we didn’t fulfill our purpose in life (MAKE THE BABBIES), and elbowed me in the neck.

At this point, one of the prayer squad called the police.

But not because of a huge man intimidating a young woman. She called the police because women were swearing.

They wouldn’t come, and so the woman told us off for wasting police time. YOU called THEM, I pointed out. She said we should be ashamed of ourselves for having such bad behaviour that she had to. She told us we needed to go home and learn to conduct ourselves properly.

And this really just summed it up for me. The anti-abortion people were way more concerned about women using naughty words than anything an aggressive, intimidating stranger was doing to us.

They want to control women’s sexual and general behaviour to fit the parameters of their religion – this is what it truly comes down to.

These people are anti-science, and anti-reason, and they want to get control.

So I went back, the other day.

Other people turned up, too: a woman with a young child at kindy. One of the women I met in the situation above. A female family member who has had an abortion. Two male friends.

We held up signs near the anti-abortion pro-lifers. We ignored them; we didn’t acknowledge them.

We wanted to show the rage they produce in the people they affect. It took all of twenty seconds to get our first beep. A blonde woman leaned out of her car window.

GO YOU GOOD THINGS! she screamed and pumped her first, grinning at us.

Thank you! yelled bus drivers, truck drivers, cyclists, overall-clad workers in vans, suits in BMWs. Horns parped and blasted all day.

I love it! Keep it up! Yes, ladies! YES! It’s a woman’s right to choooooose, they shouted from their cars.

People parked up and ran over to thank us: They’ve been pissing me off for days. I’m so glad to see people out here standing up to them, said everybody from old ladies to middle-aged men to teenagers.

Women who’d had abortions and weren’t sorry came to see us. Women who hadn’t had abortions shook our hands. A nurse from the clinic came over and thanked us. Men came over and thanked us. Mixed groups of office workers thanked us, and tried to buy us lunch, coffee, tea. Someone brought us bottled water. Apart from a few cars full of men who screamed sluts! out the windows, we only had about five people oppose us: all were male (and all were either extremely elderly or clearly had elaborate mental health issues).

Everybody was just so damn glad somebody was sticking up for real humanity in the face of these anti-human preachers.

One guy, he couldn’t contain his rage. He swore at us as he walked past, and wandered back later to elaborate. You think you can tell women what to do with their bodies! He shouted. Then he stared at my sign which said Protest Shitty Sex Education, Not Abortion, looked at another that said Keep Your Faith Outta My Fanny, and said WAIT! No! I agree with you guys! He turned around and pointed. It’s them I hate! I’m so sorry! I thought you were part of their horrible little group! I’m so embarrassed!

In fact, some people got so riled up they went and had a go at the pro-lifers as they prayed and sang.

And that always got interesting.

These pro-lifers, you see, they aggressively film and photograph anybody who stops to argue or discuss with them. Saying you don’t consent to being filmed or having your image recorded doesn’t stop them (they don’t care about your rights: after all, you’ve been growing for more than a few weeks). They just carry on filming and photographing right up in your face. It’s a really cheap, petty form of intimidation and provocation. They want so badly to be the victims here – they wish someone would smash the camera out of their hands so they can go on TV about the abuse they have suffered at the hands of murderers supporting murdering murder!!

Alas, reasonable people are reasonable.

People using the clinic don’t want to have the baby of the man who raped them.

They don’t want to have the baby of the man who left them when he found out they were pregnant.

Maybe they were using reliable birth control, and antibiotics made it fail, and they’re not prepared to raise a family with their current partner.

Maybe they don’t want to have another baby, as they have the perfect amount for them and their family.

Maybe they are too young or old to want to be a parent.

Maybe they’re studying and don’t want to give up their education.

Maybe they can’t afford it.

Maybe they aren’t ready yet, but in a few years might want a zillion babies.

Maybe they just can’t spare any time right now to be pregnant and nauseous.

Maybe they have a health condition that means their life is at risk when pregnant.

Or maybe they simply don’t want to be pregnant, ever, and it’s none of our goddamn business why not.

Nobody has abortions for fun: let’s be clear about this.

But whatever their reasons, humans have the right to choose what they do with their bodies – in private, and without harassment from organised religious extremists.

*If you want to come and counter-protest their protest for a couple of hours, other people will be there 10am-1pm this Friday 28th March and Saturday 29th March. Bring your signs. Bring your anger.

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135 Comments

  1. Your arguement is only valid IF your life is in danger and in 99% of cases IT ISN’T. So the pro-life movement IS pro-life and YOU are PRO-DEATH. It’s a good thing your mother didn’t abort you then isn’t it? Otherwise you wouldn’t be here advocating MURDER.

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    • The argument isn’t only valid if the woman’s life is in danger (how do you even judge that anyway – how do you deal with unknown ectopic pregnancies, post-patrum depression, other mental health issues etc).

      The bottom line is it’s for a woman to decide what happens to her body. Your desire to make those decisions for her says much more about you than it does her.

      Oh, and abortion isn’t murder. I suggest if you want to have reasoned, rational debate (yes, I know this is unlikely, but I thought I’d give you a chance) then you might wish to moderate your language and do a little research.

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    • Groucho Marxist says:

      and do you agree that if they ARE born that it is fair to beat them until they do as YOU say? or are you a different type of religious control freak from all the others?

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    • I find that the ‘fight fire with fire’ approach is the best way of dealing with people who are so obsessed with stopping ‘murder’ that they’re relentlessly protesting outside abortion clinics (but not outside the embassies or consulates of major miltary powers, of course).

      Since they like all that Colin Craig shit so much, I myself would hope not to encounter any of them, lest I were to find myself of a mind to confiscate their placards, and use them to beat their ass (lovingly, and for purposes of correction, of course).

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    • Burnt Out Teacher Burnt Out Teacher says:

      Hi Avenging Angel, just a quick note to let you know that while your comment here was borderline, your other highly abusive comments have been moderated out and are sitting in the trash. In the name of debate, you are most welcome to resubmit further comments in which you don’t scream abuse and compare people to Nazis, though.

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    • Draco T Bastard says:

      No, the pro-life movement are pro-death. They’re the type of people who cause things like this and feel no guilt about it.

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      • harris says:

        Draco – pro-life views didn’t have anything to do with that case.

        From the same Wikipedia article you’ve cited:
        “‘This case probably does not have a lot to do with abortion laws.'”… the “main problem is being missed” … the real issue may be that the septicemia was caused by extended-spectrum beta-lactamase positive gram negative bacteria (ESBL), which are resistant to many known antibiotic treatments. … the first key causal factor was inadequate assessment and monitoring. Additionally, staff failed to devise a plan of care … hospital staff failed to adhere to clinical guidelines. [there is] no evidence to suggest a so-called “Catholic ethos” … that prevented Halappanavar’s life from being saved by a medical termination”.

        Were you aware of this and chose to ignore it – and as such are being decitful, or were you unaware of this and thus are guilty of spouting off about things of which you are ignorant?

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      • harris says:

        Draco said: “No, the pro-life movement are pro-death.”

        Tell me, who caused all this death (Wikipedia article, not pictures) at a “front street” abortion clinic? Pro-lifers or those in favour of abortion?

        This is in a place where abortion was legal. What gives?

        Will you or the blogger post pictures about this too? Or are gruesome pictures of abortion only OK if they support your cause?

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    • Daniel says:

      typical, its just like religious folk to go around telling other people how to think and do. keep it to yourself and let everyone else get on with their lives without your prolife rubbish. abortion is not murder in my eyes. I would rather a child be born at a time when the parents are able and capable of loving and caring for them, children shouldn’t have to be separated (adopted out) from their parents for the sake of the opinions of some, when it can be easily avoided with abortion. There’s already too many children not being taken care of, why don’t you get out and help them instead of standing behind your signs telling women what to do

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  2. opium says:

    It never ceases to amaze me that that religious people demand so many rights for themselves,yet are so quick to deny others those same rights.

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  3. Josh says:

    Brilliant article – pro choice all the way! One small thing that I feel obliged to point out though – if you’re in a public place, anybody is legally allowed to film and photograph you. It is only illegal if you are in a place where you have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” (your own home, pool changing rooms etc)

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  4. Great blog, BOT. I understand exactly what this is like. Good on you for counter-protesting. It’s worth it.

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  5. Murray Simmonds says:

    An excellent and extremely thought-provoking article. Thank you, Burnt Out Teacher.

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  6. SG says:

    I’d like to make a comment as someone who is on the left (I’m a Mana Member), a socialist, and is pro-life, in fact whose pro-life ethics informs fundamentally my left-wing political views. The first thing I say to people when the issue of abortion comes up is that it is not necessarily a religious issue, and it certainly doesn’t have to be an issue of religious morality. It’s a biological issue, a legal issue, and a feminist issue. Now I am a recent religious convert, but I was pro-life as an atheist, and my parents, both doctors, one religious and a feminist, one an atheist are both pro-life.

    I readily concede in the pro-life movement, especially amongst those on the political right, there is a misogynistic punitive mindset that being ‘saddled’ with children is a woman’s just dessert for promiscuity. The pro-life movement is hurt by association with these people, and especially those on the American political right who claim to be pro-life, but then voice support for guns, nuclear weapons, the death penalty, unjust wars, and an exploitative economic system. I would also like to suggest that while these people do make up a portion of pro-lifers, I’ve never met one personally who holds these views. I have however met plenty of left-wing pro-lifers whose consistent life ethics leads them to oppose not just abortion, but the dehumanising, unjust, exploitative, patriarchal economic-social hegemony which reduces humanity to a collection of resources, and turns children in to economic impossibilities.

    In terms of making a just and compelling argument for life without having to appeal directly to religion, this is simple, and often done. Biologically a human zygote is a human organism – a complete whole and genetically unique human organism. It is not a potential life. It is a living, unique, human organism. This is the only reasonable, rational, and scientifically justifiable point to define the beginning of human life. Any other attempts to define humanity or degrees of humanity externally, by what abilities one possesses, by someone’s age, by one’s independence, by one’s being wanted, or any other factors lead to very troubling consequences and have in the past been used as justifications for the dehumanisation of vast swathes of humanity – blacks and indigenous people to justify slavery and colonisation, Jews to justify the Holocaust, women to deny them rights of citizenship, and now unborn children, to justify their killing. Humanity can only be defined internally, by one’s existence as a genetically unique, complete, individual human organism, and by virtue of such existence entitled to ownership of their own person, and the dignity and rights that flow from such an existence.

    A parent cannot justifiably own a child, anymore than a master can justifiably own a slave, than a husband can justifiably own a wife. To treat anyone as property is to treat them as a means to an end, which is the same reason we on the left oppose capitalism, war, racism, and the patriarchy. Because it denies people the right to their humanity. It treats them as objects, means to an end, and not ends in and of themselves. Once we accept what it means to be human, then our moral obligations, and so the legal protections we should afford eachother become clear. The right to life is the most fundamental human right, the right from which all others flow, and from which all our moral reasoning must stem. Without the right to existence then freedom of speech, thought, protest, the rights to freedom from exploitation and wage-slavery cannot exist.

    One last note. The birth of a child will always be the choice of a mother, because whether or not we legally recognise the right to exist, and then rights to a good existence that rationally flow from that, there will always be the option to terminate – whether freely available or underground. What the pro-life movement should be doing more and is doing to some extent, through the work of great organisations like Caritas, is focussing making the choice of life as easy as possible. That means providing unconditional, un-judgemental support for all pregnant mothers, to create a social environment where pregnancy isn’t shameful or a hindrance. To provide easy options for quality care, adoptions, and whāngai if a mother doesn’t want to raise a child. To provide childcare, financial assistance, training and education, so the costs of pregnancy and children – either financial or in terms of life options are negligible. To try to keep young families together, and to stop the rape culture/culture of death, that sees women, children, the poor, the disenfranchised, the unemployed, and the marginalised as objects, acceptable to be used and exploited by an unjust economic system. Let’s recognise the value of every human being.

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    • Naturesong says:

      I can’t square your last paragraph, that is humanist in its approach and acknowledges that “the birth of a child will always be the choice of the mother”, with the view articulated in the rest of your post which argues that personhood be conferred upon zygotes.

      Although appearing rational the heart of your argument is extreme.

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      • SG says:

        I don’t deny that it is an extreme argument. Taking a moral stand, which we on the left do in opposition to the status quo is an act of extremism. The obligations that flow from moral reasoning are absolute. Accepting the humanity of every human means it is not okay to take human life, to dehumanise ever, in any circumstance – an extreme position, no doubt. But likewise is accepting the injustice of exploitation. This also commits you to an extreme obligation. It is not okay to exploit a human in any circumstance ever.

        Yes, whether or not a child is allowed to be born is always a choice the mother will have, by definition, as she is the one carrying the child. She can choose to carry, or choose to kill. To acknowledge that there exists a choice however, is not to say that it is justifiable to kill an unborn child. It is undeniable to say that the husband has a choice whether to beat his wife or not, or the soldier has choice to kill the civilian or not. Acknowledging that there is a choice is not the same as an endorsement of those practices.

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    • Lara says:

      “Biologically a human zygote is a human organism – a complete whole and genetically unique human organism.”

      No. This sentence is scientifically illiterate.

      A zygote is a single fertilised cell. As soon as it begins dividing and forms more than one cell it is an embryo.

      A human embryo is quantitively and qualitatively different from a fully formed human being. An embryo does not have a fully formed nervous system including the brain. Without a nervous system is cannot think and feels no pain. It simply does not feel. It has no memory. It cannot survive outside of the uterus. Even a 24 week old foetus requires considerable assistance normally to survive outside the uterus.

      Adoption is NOT an equal alternative to abortion. Adoption requires the completion of pregnancy, birth and subsequent giving away of a baby. It is heartbreaking for both mother and child and should only ever be considered when the mother is incapable of looking after her child (not just poor) or when she dies. End of.

      I suggest you begin by recognising the right of people with uteri to control what they do with their bodies. It’s a very basic human right those without uteri don’t have to think about.

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      • SG says:

        The moment two 23 chromosome human gametes come together to form a 46 chromosome human zygote, this is undeniably a genetically unique and complete human organism. It’s not going to ‘grow’ into a rabbit, or a dog. It is genetically a whole human, with a different genetic code to any that has ever existed before, or ever will after. It is definitionally a human not because of any sort of external framework or test imposed on it from any arbitrary external definition – whether it can see, or think, or sense pain, or feel. It is a human because that is what that entire, unique, and new human organism actually is. The point of fertilisation is the point of creation of a genetically new human organism where previously none existed. What it is capable of performing is irrelevant. It is actually, physically, concretely, semantically, biologically, and undeniably human. Not human-ish, not part human, not potentially human, but a human. Whether one recognises the equal worth of all human life or not is up to them. But if one does not accept that all humans are equally valuable, perhaps that person should question upon what basis they can validly make moral judgements about society and injustice.

        I’m not saying that adoption is easy. I’m not saying that carrying a baby to term is easy. But we can as a society make it a lot easier. We can make maternity care, and childcare easy. We can create a culture where the child is not a millstone, but is celebrated, and fed, and kept warm, and cared for, and educated. Not killed because as a society we’ve decided to make children, to make life, unfeasible.

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        • Jasmine says:

          If you believe all human life is equal, shouldn’t you be protecting the billions of innocent sperm sent to their deaths every day? No pro-choice person denies that a fetus is human – just that it isn’t a person, only a potential one.

          Regardless, protecting two competing interests within one body is legally unworkable in a liberal, secular democracy. The person that owns the body should have the overriding say over the organisms dependent within it. One interest has to lose out, I’d rather it was the sentient one.

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          • SG says:

            I don’t see how it follows that being opposed to the killing of a 46 chromosome genetically unique individual means one must necessarily assert that the emission of 23 chromosome gametes is tantamount to murder.

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            • Jasmine says:

              …Because your argument is based on the value of human life, not of human individuals. There is a big difference.

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              • SG says:

                All human individuals have human life by virtue of their existence. A 23 chromosome gamete is not a genetically complete individual human the way that a 46 chromosome zygote is. They have a complete, unique, and individual genetic code the way that any other person does. To kill a zygote is to end completely the living existence of that genetically unique individual. Emissions of sperm does not cause the end of the existence of a unique genetic code. It’s the difference between scraping off someone’s skin cell and strangling someone to death.

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                • Burnt Out Teacher Burnt Out Teacher says:

                  Sorry but BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH

                  Can’t hear you over the sound of a thousand gladly echoing uteruses

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                  • Rory says:

                    That was actually a fairly trite reply (blah blah blah) to what have been fairly thoughtful responses by SG – and you definitely can do better than that. For the record I am totally against any group that violently intimidates another.

                    Interesting ethical issues surround abortion and I think Lara alluded to one of them…
                    “An embryo does not have a fully formed nervous system including the brain. Without a nervous system is cannot think and feels no pain”
                    in response to this I would say: what about severely disabled children who are unable to think yet can survive by independent respiratory and cardiac function? We don’t terminate them. At what point is someone “not a human being”? A level of consciousness is not a pre-requisite otherwise we could justifiably kill dementia patients who no longer have conscious thought or other severely disabled individuals. This is an extremely dangerous moral road to tread.

                    Personally, I am not a religious person but my mother was pressured by her doctor to have an abortion when she fell pregnant with me aged 17 in the early 80’s. Thankfully, she decided to keep me even after my father went to prison for bank robbery. I am very, very glad to be alive today, working as a health professional and positively touching the lives of hundreds over the years by my very existence.

                    I wish the the absolute best to any woman who has to face the dilemma of choosing to abort or not to abort her child.

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                    • Burnt Out Teacher Burnt Out Teacher says:

                      Well, I’m pretty tired of condescending religious men telling women what the “facts” are with abortion. It truly all just sounds like “blah blah blah” to me after a while. Termination of pregnancy is a woman’s right, and a woman’s issue. Muddying it with poorly-understood comparisons to murder in order to claim some warped moral high ground is actually pretty pathetic.

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                    • I wonder…

                      How would we men feel if a matriarchal society dictated our reproductive systems?

                      Maybe enforced sterilisation?

                      Or selective breeding for specific traits?

                      Unlikely?

                      Probably.

                      After all, it would be ludicrous to envisage a world where one gender controlled the other gender’s reproductive system and bodies.

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                    • Lara says:

                      FFS

                      There is an enormous difference between a fully formed baby and an embryo which does not have a nervous system nor a fully formed brain.

                      My basic test would be: if the foetus can survive outside of the uterus unassisted, then it is a separate human being. If a foetus is removed from a uterus and cannot survive because it is pre-term / not fully formed / incapable of survival unassisted then it is not.

                      And I don’t mean normal assistance in regards to normal care of feeding and holding and loving. I mean assistance in terms of things multi cellular organisms do on their own; respiration, excretion, egestion.

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        • lara says:

          “The moment two 23 chromosome human gametes come together to form a 46 chromosome human zygote, this is undeniably a genetically unique and complete human organism.”

          It is a zygote. It is not a “complete” human organism.

          How can it be when it has only one cell?

          Really. That IS the most scientifically illiterate sentence I have ever read. Ever.

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          • SG says:

            It is complete because there is no extra genetic code that needs to be added to it to make it look like you or me. Regardless of how many cells it is, there is no genetic difference between this human and you. Just a matter of how long things have been alive. And I wouldn’t assert that it is OK for 20 year old to kill a toddler because it had been alive for longer.

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            • Jasmine says:

              It doesn’t look like you or me…it looks like a microscopic blob of jelly. Yes, there is genetic difference; an embryo is not my clone so must have genetic difference.

              We are not justifying abortion based on the assertion of who has lived the longest, it is about controlling one’s own body and future.

              You don’t have the right to demand to use someone’s body as life support, why should an embryo?

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              • SG says:

                There is genetic difference to the same degree as there is between you and I, or you and your mother. Would you assert that it would be okay to kill me or your mother because neither looked like you. An 80 year old doesn’t look much like a baby, but we assert it is wrong to kill them. A Scandinavian doesn’t look much like a Papuan, but that doesn’t give cause to end their lives.

                Yes people have self-ownership, the mother has a right to her body, the child the right to theirs. I would not have the right to use your body as a means of life support because to do so would require a forcible process of violence to artificially attach myself to you. The child through a natural process attaches itself to the mother, and then abortion requires a violent and artificial means that either poisons a person inducing death, or a forcible extraction that dismembers and causes death. That is why there is a difference between abortion and say miscarriage due to maternal malnutrition. Abortion is an active and intentional move to artificially and violently end the life of another, versus withdrawal of a life-support system (either intentional or not).

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                • Jasmine says:

                  You are wasting your time on straw-man arguments, I never implied that different looks were the sole basis for justifying abortion. Abortion is the act of ending the process of pregnancy. There is no poisoning and dismemberment only happens after the pregnancy has ended. Abortion methods do not physically harm the fetus, they just end the pregnancy and the fetus dies as a result of not being an independent life-form. It is the same process as miscarriage, just deliberate.

                  Whether the process of forced life-support is natural or not does not take away the right of someone to consent to being life-support. The church or the state forcing a woman to remain as life-support is an act of violence.

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                  • SG says:

                    To intentionally cause the death of a person who through absolutely no fault of their own is dependant on your support to live is an intentional act to cause death, and who without this act would very likely not have died, is an act of violence.

                    Perhaps if someone were to accept the morality of killing in self-defence (something I don’t), they could justify abortion in cases where supporting this person was likely to cause their own death. Otherwise it seems quite an uncontroversial claim that the right of someone to exist outweighs the right of someone to not be inconvenienced for 9 months, and which in vast majority of pregnancies, is not particularly disabling. But I again refer to my earlier comments about how the pro-life movement must lobby and do everything in their grasp to make those 9 months, and then the life of mother and child after, as dignified as possible.

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                    • Burnt Out Teacher Burnt Out Teacher says:

                      1. A fertilised ovum is not a person;
                      2. You have no idea what pregnancy entails and it’s certainly not just an “inconvenience” so until you have a uterus you DO NOT get to comment with any authority on this;
                      3. You think safe and legal abortion of unwanted pregnancy is violence? Have you ever SEEN actual violence? It’s horrific. I have held a human’s head in my arms in a carpark after a savage, malice-filled beating. THAT is violence. Abortion is not violence. The terminated tissue is not sentient or aware, it is done with no malice, and is a relief to those who require it. It is also none of your business. Sheesh. Perhaps I should have restricted the comments to those who are actually affected by abortion (WOMEN) and then more reason would prevail.

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                    • Jasmine says:

                      A non-sentient fetus is not a person. A person by definition is an independent life-form. A fetus for the most part is not viable or independent and thus a part of the woman’s body and under her jurisdiction.

                      I would grant that the morality becomes murky when the fetus is viable and thus sentient. BUT in the majority of cases this does not come into the equation.

                      If abortion is ‘killing’ then miscarriage is involuntary manslaughter. Abortion is literally an induced miscarriage to interrupt a pregnancy.

                      No forced pregnancy can be dignified. You have no foresight to presume that it wouldn’t be traumatic, extremely disruptive or potentially health threatening to the woman in question. It is more than a mere inconvenience – women’s bodies and lives are forever changed. Abortion is far safer than pregnancy and childbirth.

                      What your position boils down is the preservation of a tiny, rudimentary life-form with little discernible features and no sentience – at any cost to the emotional, and physical well-being of a sentient individual. That is indefensible.

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                    • Daniel says:

                      abortion takes place at a time where the foetus will feel no pain as a side effect of abortion unlike suffocation or beating, nor have any attachments or feelings to do with anything in this world, so on that basis along with saving a child from being born not wanted, and in some cases not being born into a life of hardship and/or poverty, I accept abortion.

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                • Jasmine says:

                  on a side note, most abortions occur when the fetus is no bigger than the size of a grape – there’s not a whole lot to dismember there.

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            • Lara says:

              Human beings are not single celled organisms. One human stem cell is not the same thing as a human being, nor is a zygote.

              You do not seem to understand the difference between DNA, a single cell and a multi cellular organism. You do not understand basic biology.

              You cannot pretend that your point of view has any scientific validity. It is incorrect. Stop using sciencey sounding words to try and bolster your point of view.

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              • SG says:

                All human beings start as single-celled organisms. How many cells one has is initially just a matter of age. A zygote has all the genetic material of an adult human being, or a child human being. It does not matter whether it has had enough time to replicate or not. If you were to destroy all the unique genetic material of a zygote, it is tantamount to destroying all the genetic material of an adult human. Both result in the death of a human being.

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                • Lara says:

                  No.

                  If you destroy all the genetic material in a zygote you destroy all the genetic material in ONE CELL.

                  If you destroy all the genetic material in a fully formed human being you destroy all the genetic material in MILLIONS OF CELLS.

                  See the difference? It’s actually quite important.

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            • Burnt Out Teacher Burnt Out Teacher says:

              Trillions and trillions of fertilised eggs don’t make it to a viable stage every day – in humans and other mammals, and in every other species on the planet – and it’s honestly fine. Potential life lost is simply not the same as life lost.

              A 9-week old growth with its own DNA is not sentient. Tissue in a uterus that will not survive if removed – with or without medical intervention – is considered part of the host’s body, so if the host wants it gone, then BOOM, that’s their right, and their private business.

              And you know what frightens me way more than people safely terminating an unwanted pregnancy?

              Forcing women to breed against their wishes. See American slavery. See Nazism. It’s not very nice.

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            • @ SG – so, if I scrape my skin whilst gardening, or cut my finger-nails, or bleed after shaving – have I killed “a complete human being”?! After all, each cell contains 46 chromosomes.

              And considering that, theoretically, I could clone myself from a skin or blood cell, that makes said cell a potential human being…?

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              • SG says:

                We’re not talking about potential human beings, and we’re not talking about a portion of the cells of an adult human being. Abortion results in the death of 100% of the genetic material of a unique 46 chromosome individual. It is not tantamount to cutting yourself whilst shaving, the result of which is (survivable) the death of a small portion of your cells. The equivalent action to the destruction of a zygote in an adult would be to cause the death of all his genetic material.

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                • Lara says:

                  You do know the difference between genetic material and an organism which contains genetic material?

                  Because your scientifically illiterate ramblings give me reason to believe you really don’t know the difference.

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              • Maddy says:

                Not red blood cells. They eject their nuclei as they mature.

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        • Andrea says:

          And then she miscarries…Quite naturally.

          Totally agree about creating a culture where the child is not a millstone.

          However, until that wonderful epoch actually arrives, would you please do your bit to address the pests harassing women seeking to do what they must – and have done for centuries, despite the hideous and life-threatening risks.

          If they, the righteous ones, don’t have a gold card, (not Winnie’s!) personally signed by god or one of the archangels, to do this devilish work would they please naff off? They’re conspicuous by their absence when it comes to helping solo parents.

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        • Merrial says:

          @ SG: moralise away to your heart’s content. Dress your argument up in the jargon of science and ethics – all that stuff. Knock yourself out. But the heart of your case is religious, whether you wish to acknowledge it or not.

          However, it’s all irrelevant. It isn’t your or my – or anyone’s – business if a woman wishes to have an abortion. Abortion is a medical process, and another method of contraception; the decision to abort is one for a woman, in consultation with her medical practitioner.

          Because it’s her body, a woman gets to choose whether to carry a pregnancy to term. Nobody else can make that decision. None of those arguments that you’ve presented carry any weight.

          Just by the bye, given your family background, I’m assuming that you’re familiar with the statistics on the number of zygotes expelled by the body, usually before they’ve implanted, and certainly before a woman would be aware of it. The problem with the view that you hold is that it really commits you to seeing all these zygotes as humans, even if nobody – including you – could possibly know about them. And that looks suspiciously like a sort of reductio ad absurdum.

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          • Because it’s her body, a woman gets to choose whether to carry a pregnancy to term. Nobody else can make that decision.

            Indeed.

            It’s interesting to note that there are no similar circumstances where women, supported by The State, and extremist religious lobby groups, exert similar controls over men’s bodies.

            I wonder what outcry there would be if women attempted to enforce contraception/sterilisation on men, to reduce unwanted pregnancies.

            The first response would probably be, “But it’s not the same thing!”

            Of course not. It never is.

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      • Penny says:

        “Adoption is NOT an equal alternative to abortion. Adoption requires the completion of pregnancy, birth and subsequent giving away of a baby. It is heartbreaking for both mother and child and should only ever be considered when the mother is incapable of looking after her child (not just poor) or when she dies. End of.”

        How can you support pro-choice with views like that? Isn’t the point of pro-choice to have a choice? Isn’t adoption a choice (whether you think it should be a last resort or not)? Shouldn’t a woman who is pregnant be given ALL options without bias? So that she may examine each alternative without being under duress or pressure to make a ‘socially acceptable’ decision and consider what she believes is the best and right for HER and her potential child?

        Sadly, you sound like all the other pro-lifers to me.

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        • Jasmine says:

          She wasn’t trying to take away the validity of adoption as a choice for women. She was quite plainly arguing against pro-life logic that adoption is the only and best alternative to abortion.

          BOTH choices are valid, but the pro-life side only accepts one.

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          • penny says:

            Actually, what you see as ‘quite plainly’ I see as ‘your interpretation’ of the actual writers text although I appreciate you sharing your opinion.

            My own interpretation reads this as there are only two choices (confirmed by you saying “BOTH choices are valid”) and that yes, she in fact was “…trying to take away the validity of adoption as a choice for women. She was quite plainly arguing against pro-life logic that adoption is the only and best alternative to abortion.”

            By saying “Adoption is NOT an equal alternative to abortion… should only ever be considered when the mother is incapable of looking after her child (not just poor) or when she dies. End of.”

            While this certainly negates the ‘pro-life logic that adoption is the only and best alternative to abortion’ because it belittles adoption as an equal alternative it also creates detrimental effects on the alternative of adoption for those who fall into the pro-choice side as well.

            The message I was trying to get across was that, yes adoptions can be emotionally stressful – Lara has chosen to describe them as heartbreaking however a termination could also be described as equally heartbreaking – at the end of the day, while it may of been the right decision for any individual (or couple) to make that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt or isn’t heartbreaking. Keeping a baby can be heartbreaking – if she feels that keeping the child was her only option despite her not being ready or wanting a child (for whatever reason) then she might feel heartbroken by having to follow it through – and consequently might be a very unhappy or even resentful woman for the rest of her life.

            I am pro-choice but I believe there is more to it than ‘to abort or not to abort’. I believe adoption is an equal alternative to BOTH abortion AND keeping a baby and I believe that pro-choice means being able to have the choice between ALL and ANY available options including adoption, abortion and keeping a baby and being educated in a way that they have enough understanding of each to make a decision that is best for them and their own circumstances.

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            • Lara says:

              Actually I do not think that abortion and adoption are equally as heartbreaking. And I’ve read a rather large amount of personal stories about both. Luckily I have never been personally faced with a decision about either, but I know that I would have chosen abortion over adoption.

              Many women who choose abortion have a huge sense of relief. If the “pro-lifers” would naff off and stop their scientifically illiterate bollocks they would probably feel just relief.

              Many women who adopt spend the rest of their lives wondering what happened to the babies they gave birth to. And many people who are adopted spend their lives wondering why they were given away, and who their biological parents are. The two are completely different.

              Having gone through pregnancy and childbirth I can tell you I would probably feel the same about both as I have described above.

              I do not believe adoption is an equal alternative at all. And I do not think in this society we are honest about what adoption entails for both birth parents and adopted people.

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              • Penny says:

                I’m sorry – I realise you are certainly entitled to your own opinion and you seem like you have your head screwed on pretty well, so I guess your opinions are based on the knowledge you do have (which is a lot more than others).

                To clarify – I did not mean that you would feel the same *type* of heartbreak or feel the same emotions when faced with these choices what I meant was that on a level of emotionally painful decisions to make they are pretty on par.

                I mostly agree with what your saying but I think there is more to it.

                I certainly agree that many women do feel a sense of relief. Many feel guilt. Many feel selfish. Many feel just. Many feel a mixture of all of these emotions and many more that I haven’t named and would have these feelings regardless of the presence or even existence of active pro-lifers because it’s an emotional decision. I don’t think it is as clear cut or black and white as just ‘relief’ and every single woman will feel and cope with that situation differently depending on their life experience and level and type of support.

                You seem comfortable making sweeping generalisation about how women feel though (having not experienced either of these yourself and only semi confident of your reaction – you “would probably feel the same”) And I also in part agree that many women who adopt children out and many children who have been adopted are left with questions and in some circumstances that can be a struggle when trying to get some closure or answers or even just to reconnect but I think that this is purely due to a lack of understanding by the general public in the processes and options surrounding adoption. But because adoption is mostly shunned in NZ by a societal point of view (good on you for actually taking the initiative to read about it :D ) there isn’t support for adoption like there is for abortion – it’s not talked about and it’s not seen as a viable alternative. During my time throughout school it was certainly never even mentioned in any of my sex ed classes.

                I’m super happy for you that you have experienced pregnancy and childbirth.

                And I agree that in this society we are not honest about what adoption entails for both birth parents and adopted people – and that is *why* adoption is not considered an equal alternative.

                (As an FYI I have experienced pregnancy and childbirth as well, and chose to adopt my child out (my reasons for which I do not believe are necessary to be detailed here), and my family is completely atheist. I have also experienced an abortion.)

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        • Lara says:

          I support the choice of each and every person who is pregnant. To do what that person chooses to do with their bodies. Without judgement from anyone else ever, and with support.

          The choices are multiple and determined by that persons circumstances.

          Most people who find themselves pregnant and don’t wish to be tend to choose abortion, particularly if there is less judgement about this choice. And most of them who choose abortion are satisfied with that choice.

          I’m just saying that trying to push them towards adoption while calling abortion something emotive like “murder” is limiting their choices and being rather dishonest about the differences between abortion and adoption from the pregnant person’s point of view.

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          • Penny says:

            Most people who find themselves pregnant and don’t wish to be tend to choose abortion (do they?), particularly if there is less judgement about this choice (is there less judgement? What do you call the pro-lifers then). And most of them who choose abortion are satisfied with that choice.

            Most are satisfied with this choice? Where do you get your facts from?

            I’m just saying that trying to push them towards adoption while calling abortion something emotive like “murder” is limiting their choices and being rather dishonest about the differences between abortion and adoption from the pregnant person’s point of view.

            I agree that nobody should be ‘pushing’ anyone into any type of decision but it seems like you are ‘pushing’ women to choose abortion over adoption.
            You are limiting their choice by using emotive language by saying that adoption is ‘heartbreaking’ and therefore is a dishonest portrayal of the differences between the two.

            See what I’m getting at yet?

            I understand that you personally have admitted you would likely choose abortion over adoption and that’s awesome that you have that decision – What I’m saying is that standing for pro-choice and then openly debating that one choice is better than the other because that’s what you would choose is not standing for pro-choice it’s standing for pro-abortion. Adoption clearly doesn’t feel like a comfortable decision for you but it might be for someone else. That doesn’t make EITHER choice better than the other or one more moral than the other it just means that people are different and I don’t see how putting down the idea of adoption because you don’t like it is positive or constructive in terms of the bigger picture.

            All alternatives should be available without bias.

            (If your interested enough to read ‘personal stories’ and would like to know more about my own experience – I’m not trying to flaunt myself as interesting I am genuinely just trying to be open, especially if people are genuinely interested and would like to know more from a first-hand source – then I am more than happy to answer any questions or give more detail on the event, just perhaps not in this particular public forum but I can pass on my email if you would like.)

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            • Lara says:

              I completely agree all alternatives should be presented to women. I’m actually not advocating adoption over abortion at all, I’m not advocating either actually. My personal preference would be for abortion, and in the few pregnancy scares I’ve had I’ve been adamant that abortion is what I wanted.

              I think you and I are on the same page actually.

              I read a lot at http://www.firstmotherforum.com/.

              My statement that most people choose abortion over adoption came from meta studies I’ve read, and my understanding that in NZ there are many families wanting to adopt who must wait a long time for a baby.

              I did not have my child living with me for seven years and that broke my heart. I simply cannot imagine never having my child with me, and not knowing where my child is or how they are. I think it might be enough to kill me, but I know that is an extreme reaction. I’m pretty sure I’d feel less strongly about abortion.

              The original point I was trying to get across is this: “pro-lifers” try to say women are killing babies when they abort (which is simply untrue and scientifically illiterate), and that those women should just give the babies up for adoption. As if the two are equal decisions with equal (but different) consequences. I do not think that is honest. From all I have read and all I feel when faced with that possible decision myself, I do not think they are the same and I strongly suspect adoption would be more difficult.

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          • Sarah says:

            What is doing anything you want with your body got to do with abortion?
            My children’s body is no more part of my body before they where born than after, they were merely within my body as they are supposed to be until ready to be born.

            Bodily autonomy is and invalid argument and a poor one anyway.

            If you are to argue that the bodily autonomy argument is valid, then so is suicide the ultimate expression of bodily autonomy. But isn’t suicide the sign something is wrong?
            Charlotte Dawson committed suicide because of depression brought on by having an abortion, as did one of my friends. The suicide rate is higher for women who have had an abortion than those who didn’t.

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    • Draco T Bastard says:

      Biologically a human zygote is a human organism

      No, it’s not.

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      • Maddy says:

        Just as chickens aren’t counted until they hatch, neither are embryos counted as organisms, as members of the population, until they are independent. Physically, that is. Separated from the womb in which they incubate.

        Sure, young humans are somewhat dependent on parental care, just like many young birds are. However, post-birth, anyone can provide it, not just a biological mother.

        A zygote, a blastocyst, a gastrocyst, an embryo…none of these things are organisms in their own right, only potential organisms. Just like seeds aren’t plants; they’re just things with the potential to become plants, if given the right environmental conditions to germinate and grow.

        I can say this with confidence, but ultimately, it is my experience that biological classifications and groupings have notoriously fuzzy edges. I’m cool with that.

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  7. countryboy says:

    @ Avenging Angel . You’re here advocating hatred , fear , mistrust , control , prejudice and by your very nature ; stupidity . I bet you’re the life of any party . And worse still , you’re probably some dopy guy .

    Which team member are you an Avenging Angel for ? Satan ?

    When you start putting what is clearly your formidable mind behind making sure young , pregnant mothers can feel safe about having an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy go full term in The Devils Isles aka New Zealand with a supportive welfare system NOT run by a demon incarnate then espouse your dull minded prejudices .
    Right now , about the only course of action , other than an abortion , is to place an ad in the Sex Workers columns of the news papers so as they can make enough money to survive with a child in paula bennetts Hell .

    Where’s your flared nostril , mad eyed rant now ?
    Pregnant women are an easy target for cowardly bullies like you .
    So , in the immortal words of the Dalai Lama . Fuck off !

    Avenging Angel ? Good grief , what a dopy nom de plume . About as ego centric as you can get if you ask me .

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  8. YogiBare says:

    As a male I feel it would be presumptuous of me to try and tell any woman what she can or can’t do with her own body.
    SG says, “The point of fertilisation is the point of creation of a genetically new human organism where previously none existed.” That statement may be true but it ignores the many developments a zygote has ahead of it before it can hope to become a functioning human. In the words of Monty Python we may as well say “every sperm is precious” because it contains half the genetic material to make a human. All us men better stop masturbating toot sweet before we kill any more potential human lives.
    You go, BOT

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    • SG says:

      Or you might as well say it is morally OK to kill the blind, or the intellectually disabled, or those without limbs, or a newborn that can’t walk, or talk, or remember because they might not have gone through all the developments to be a human being that functions in the way you or I do, or don’t have the ability to function as you or I do.

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      • Jasmine says:

        no…because they are not completely dependent on another person’s bodily functions for survival. Abortion isn’t murder in the same way that switching off a family member’s life-support system isn’t murder. It simply severs the link between dependant and the life-support.

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        • SG says:

          Except that switching off someone’s life support is simply removing an artificial structure that was extending life. It takes no extra effort to subvert a natural process. Abortion is the intentional and violent use of an artificial method to end a life. It’s OK to turn of the life support of a dying family member. It isn’t OK to shoot them, or smother them. The latter options are what abortion, in terms of acts, is equivalent to.

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      • SG says:
        March 25, 2014 at 5:23 pm

        Or you might as well say it is morally OK to kill the blind, or the intellectually disabled, or those without limbs, or a newborn that can’t walk, or talk, or remember because they might not have gone through all the developments to be a human being that functions in the way you or I do, or don’t have the ability to function as you or I do.

        No, that’s not the same thing at all. The people you are referring to have already been born.

        A zygote is not “intellectually disabled”, or “without limbs” – because it doesn’t have any shape at all. You’re equating a developed human being with a cell or bunch of cells that, really, are not even as developed as a finger I might lose in a forestry accident.

        Sorry. Not only unconvincing, but not very rational.

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      • “Humanity can only be defined internally, by one’s existence as a genetically unique, complete, individual human organism”

        I think the key part of this statement which you seem to be misleading yourself with is COMPLETE

        “Or you might as well say it is morally OK to kill the blind”

        Is a blind person capable of living, independently, without the blood supply of another human being ESSENTIAL to maintain its existence? YES; they are COMPLETE human beings.

        “or the intellectually disabled,”

        Is an intellectually disabled person capable of living, independently, without the blood supply of another human being ESSENTIAL to maintain its existence? YES; they are COMPLETE human beings.

        “or those without limbs,”

        Is a person without limbs capable of living, independently, without the blood supply of another human being ESSENTIAL to maintain its existence? YES; they are COMPLETE human beings.

        “or a newborn that can’t walk, or talk, or remember because they might not have gone through all the developments to be a human being that functions in the way you or I do, or don’t have the ability to function as you or I do”

        Is a newborn capable of living, independently, without the blood supply of another human being ESSENTIAL to maintain its existence? YES; they are COMPLETE human beings.

        Answer me this: how is a fetus COMPLETE if it cannot sustain its own existence??

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    • Sarah says:

      Another nonsense argument.
      Egg and sperm have the potential to form human beings, they are of themselves not potential human beings.

      Once conception/fertilisation takes place it is a full human being, not a potential human being, there is no such thing as a potential human, only humans with potential. The single cell is as fully human as the adult, just as the new-born is as fully human as the adult will become. The infant has the potential to develop into an adult, as has the single cell. The only difference is location and nine months of development has taken place, but still another 20+ years are needed to form the adult.

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  9. Kate Kate says:

    Woman have many fertile years, it is a long time to keep fertility under control, things go wrong, timing can go wrong, eg just when you had all your wisdom teeth taken out before you realised you were pregnant, and the drugs course birth defects.
    Or you finished chemotherapy and got pregnant within the two years of the fine print on the drugs saying you must wait beyond. These are a few examples.
    life is full of complications and bad timing. Also good timing can turn bad with test for Down Syndrome and Spina Bifida coming back positive. If mens fertility came with the same complications as woman’s they would understand alright. Easy to point fingers if you have no ‘issues’ because it doesn’t happen to your body, you will never have to deal with it.
    How horrible for stressed emotional, frightened at times really grieving woman to have to wade through the tyrannical mob you write about BOT, good on you for giving them heaps of shit. Give woman a hug not a bunch of holy arse holes, aren’t religious people suppose to be companionate what happened?

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  10. Ennui says:

    Great column BOT. I must state that if I were to take my “moral” basis as the only “ethical truth” I would be very much in the pro life camp. But that is where it ends because there is another part of me that argues that I do not have a monopoly on truth, ethics etc.

    Ultimately I am comfortable that all women must have the ability to do what is right for themselves, free of interference or legal recourse. If it were me (a male) having to make a life long decision I too would make it for myself, free of any recourse by anybody else.

    If the vociferous pro lifers really want to make a difference they would as you imply make it possible, even attractive for a woman to choose to give birth. That they might see as a little thing called Christian charity, commonly seen from these “religious” types as an under-delivery with conditions attached. No thanks.

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  11. kelly says:

    I am saddened to read of your experiences OP. That you have been mistreated at a vulnerable time shows a great insensitivity on the part of those people you encountered. I wish for you that they had met you with support and comfort, and loved you for what you are.
    Your anger in your writing and action shows your deep insecurity, but this is not who you are. Who you are even if it is not now, is someone who has purpose to speak your mind and to give the gifts that you wish you had been given, to others. THIS is what i believe our role is, the bible happened to lead me to realize it, but that certainly does not mean that every person who claims to associated with this religious faith is practicing the intent or truth of it.

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    • Andrea says:

      Righteous anger masquerading as ‘insecurity’?! Sort of like ‘money-lenders in the temple’ fury. You probably know that story.

      Politely: to which religious faith do you refer? Jews and Christians share the first five books of the Old Testament.

      And there’s a surfeit of varieties of those professing to follow the man from Nazareth – usually on back roads with no convergence. Many of them believe some weird things that bear no resemblance to the instructions in the manual.

      One of the useful sayings from that book goes this way: (John 8:7) Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

      It’s a good one. Worth using daily. Especially on people yammering about ‘child murder’.

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  12. By the way, something I’ve noticed with the so-called “right to life” group in the US. They are fanatical in opposing abortion on the grounds of the sanctity of life. But quite a few are also conservatives who support capital punishment.

    So, life is sacred until the moment of birth. Thereafter, the State can kill a human being on judicial grounds.

    Neat logic, huh?

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    • Draco T Bastard says:

      So, life is sacred until the moment of birth.Thereafter, the State can kill a human being on judicial grounds.

      Considering that there’s at least one in jail for murder I don’t think they’re really all that concerned with the state.

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      • Lara says:

        And they also seem to be the first to condemn solo mothers as somehow bringing an end to the “sanctity of marriage” whatever that is. They seem incapable of comprehending the circumstances of a person who finds themselves pregnant with the other person responsible for the pregnancy able to scarper… leaving the pregnant person in sole responsibility.

        And they are remarkably absent from the lives of those children being raised by solo parents in poverty. In fact, here they tend also to be rather judgmental.

        If they REALLY were concerned about all those aborted fetuses then surely they’d be setting up homes, support, scholarships and funding for the many children who are not aborted but whose mothers needed support?

        Nope. Maybe they have “homes” where young vulnerable girls can stay until just after the birth. Then they may push the mothers into signing over babies for the adoption industry. For nice middle class couples to have a baby of their own. If it’s the right colour that is.

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  13. Skystar says:

    A very nice article. I have been to that clinic and experianced the protest. It was not nice.
    And I also liked reading SG’s comment above.

    Is there anyone else out there who is on the fence about this? Not the harrassment, but the pro-life pro-choice debate?

    I have had two abortions. In both accidental pregnancies (over 5years) the embryo had ‘potential’ health problems due to medication. I could have waited to see if the child had neural tube defects, but I never let it go long enough. I was never past 6weeks. For all I know, both were perfectly healthy……or not.
    In all honesty, I wasn’t ready either time. Otherwise I would not have been on birth control and taking potentially foetus-harming medication. Duh.

    So I have never suffered from the economic or other hardships attributed to raising an unexpected baby, but I have suffered emotionally.
    For all intensive purposes I do see a fertilised egg as a human, because I know there will never ever be another exactly like it.

    There must be others, who suffer from sadness, and post-abortion confusion. Who are automatically in the pro-choice camp because we are grateful for the choice we were given. But deep down are still utterly confused as to whether the decision we made was really okay.

    Sometimes we can’t just be in one camp. And have to live with having a foot in either forever, however horrible that feeling is.
    If you suffer from post-abortion depression, please get yourself help, and I advocate for better education in schools about the effect all choices will have on you if you become pregnant.
    We never had an abortion talk when I was in school, 10years ago.

    I am grateful for the pro-choice option. But I was not one of those ladies who can proudly say “I’m not sorry”.

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    • Lara says:

      I do think that the “pro choice” lobby may have influenced how you perceive the abortions you had.

      If as you say both abortions were prior to six weeks gestation it looks like and is the size of a tadpole. Limbs are simply buds. The heart is still forming.

      Embryology looks at the development of embryos as illustration of our evolutionary history. In terms of human evolution this stage of an embryo development would be on a par with just moving from the ocean back onto land.

      In terms of a person who also has been pregnant and given birth, I understand the wondering at what that life would have been like and what is lost.

      Perhaps it may help you to remember you did not cease the life of a baby in either event. You ceased the existence of a cluster of transforming cells which if left would have grown into a foetus, and if viable a baby.

      If you have gone through a full pregnancy and given birth you will know the difference. Even if a pregnancy ends either by abortion or miscarriage, it is qualitatively different from giving birth and holding a baby. Having to then give that baby over to someone else.. and never see it again… how can that ever be the same as abortion or miscarriage? It can’t. It resulted in a live human being who continues to live while you also do, and you cannot see that person. That’s hugely different.

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      • Muerk says:

        Lara:

        Four weeks after an embryo has implanted into the uterine lining the heart is pumping blood. I know this because at this stage in one of my pregnancies I started bleeding and I needed a vaginal ultrasound to see if my child was still alive. He was and I could see his heart pumping blood.

        Also, if I had lost my son at that stage, I would have been devastated and I would feel that loss as keenly as if I had lost any of his siblings despite his lack of development. Indeed his whole pregnancy was a rollercoaster of emotions as I kept bleeding throughout. This was especially dangerous as I am Rhesus negative and he could be positive.

        Sadly some women who miscarry are treated terribly by hospitals.

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    • the pigman says:

      Precisely. It is all very well for people to simplistically utter “my body, my choice”, but I wonder how many just take this because it seems like the “liberal”/Left thing to do (not the same thing, obviously) and how they (and their partners) would feel when faced with such a terrible choice.

      It sounds like you made responsible choices vis-a-vis both terminations. No doubt if you were feeling ill-equipped/unready to deal with a normally functioning child, a disabled child would have presented even greater challenges.

      I veer slightly towards the pro-birth/pro-adoption camp, although I would have been strongly in the “pro-choice” side 10 years ago. An atheist, I had the experience of meeting my (dead) aunt’s child (i.e., my cousin) who was adopted as a newborn when my aunt was 14. That, and supporting my wife through a pregnancy/parenting a newborn has seen me swing the other way.

      I don’t really understand how anybody can be so vehemently black-or-white about either position, and I distrust those who are.

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      • Priss says:

        “It is all very well for people to simplistically utter “my body, my choice” – Pigman

        “Simple”???

        You call facing the choice of having an abortion or an unwanted pregnancy “simple”???

        Only a MAN could be such blindly stupid as to say such a thing.

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        • the pigman says:

          No Priss, and I’m on record many times here saying it’s a terrible decision to have to make. Some have disagreed and trivialized its importance, and that is their business.

          What I said that as a motto for the Left of feminism it is a very easy rallying call to get behind, because the logic is so simple (“it is my body therefore I can do what I like to it”).

          When actually faced with the choice, as a motto it does little to assuage negative feelings.

          So please don’t try and cast me as the evil/pro-lifer/fundie/man that this post was based on. Quite clear that neither SG nor I am that person.

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  14. Surprised says:

    I have to say that I am a tad disapointed with all of these males on here commenting on the rights of women! Unless you’re going to be the one carrying the baby to term, GIVING BIRTH TO IT! And then breast feeding it and changing it every two hours….? I think that you need to back off! (Yes I am pregnant so I get a say!!!)
    You males are not the ones who have to go through the nausea, the inability to eat/drink (not alcohol)/do a whole heap of things including work or some aspects of it… It really saddens me that men so often have all these opinions about things like this but don’t actually live the hard facts themselves and I’m not talking about living them vicariously through your spouse!

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  15. the pigman says:

    Dear BOT,

    I generally enjoy reading your articles and find myself nodding in agreement. In this instance I think you should receive (even welcome) criticism without resort to the downvote button about an emotive and difficult issue.

    I’m afraid that the entire premise for your article is a simplistic binary of the Left/Women vs. the Conservative Right of Fundamentalist Rich Males. This is a fiction.

    As SG has demonstrated above (your response “blah blah blah” was banal and disrespectful – did you even read his post?), it is possible to be an atheist, be left-wing and have a civilised view/debate about abortion without resulting to straw men and binaries as you have.

    Of course, no woman should be subject to harassment and heckling by (predominantly fundie, right-wing, conservative, males(?)) strangers with no inkling of their personal circumstances. That is uncivilised, inhumane and downright cruel. Of course women who are raped or are the victims of incest should have access to the cutely-named “morning after pill”, or failing that, other means to terminate their pregnancies.

    NOTWITHSTANDING, the simplistic catch-cry of “my body, my choice” is more aligned with (neo)liberal ACT Party thinking than left-wing thought.

    Particularly odious is your assertion “I think we need to understand that actual human lives are at stake and are worth more than fertilised ova glued to uterine tissue”, accompanied by an image of a victim of a botched “backyard” abortion. You attempt to justify the use of this emotive imagery, but I wonder what you’d be saying if those with anti-abortion views started posted pictures of mangled, terminated 10 – 20 week old fetuses?

    While it may soothe consciences to try to minimise this difficult issue and trivialise the growing human inside as nothing more than a “fertilised ova”, it does nothing to address the criticism that you are treating a growing life inside you as property that you have total power over (as SG articulated pretty well above, to much reactive “liberal” down-voting).

    In my view, that is wrong. And not because of any verse in the Bible, or any underlying misogyny, just because it ignores the enormity of the act of procreation, of being pregnant, of the psychological and physical consequences of both termination (and carrying a child to term).

    Best,

    the pigman.

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    • Burnt Out Teacher Burnt Out Teacher says:

      Thanks, yes, I did read his millions of comments, none of which contained anything I haven’t read before from other religious men trying to pull off a scientific-sounding approach to bolster their self-righteous opinions on women’s bodies.

      I think the opinion held by the few sole men in the comments here shows utter ignorance of the enormity of being forced to reproduce; to bear and raise an unwanted child against your will (or give it away).

      Moralistic, hysterical restrictions on who can and can’t access medical care to take control of their own reproductive outcomes? Appalling.

      I’ve seen plenty of the fake, nasty little abortion pictures the pro-life protestors use. I’ve also been present at and seen real, live abortions, and that splash of runny blood – which resembles menstruation, actually – is nowhere near as upsetting as that picture of a real woman left for dead on a grubby motel room floor, murdered by the laws against abortion.

      We must improve sex education. That should be your first priority, as unlike prayer it would have the effect of reducing the number of abortions.

      Protest inadequate sex education if you want a real moral high ground.

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      • the pigman says:

        And yet you are continuing to be lazy by pitching this as “feminists vs (pig)men”, “rationality/science vs religion”, when it is neither of these things. You hinted (darkly) that the fundie at the top of the comments had accused you of Nazism, then made your own claim that pro-lifers were Nazis. A+

        Forget the social, physical and psychological consequences of either path.

        Trivialise. Minimise. Deny, deny, deny.

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        • Burnt Out Teacher Burnt Out Teacher says:

          Yeah, you gotta realise that I see ALL the comments, including those that never make it here but get trashed for abuse and menace.

          And please don’t misrepresent me. I said forced breeding has been done by Nazis and proponents of slavery. You want to trivialise and minimise that? Your choice.

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          • the pigman says:

            So the indirect comparison between “pro-lifers” -> forced breeding -> Nazism was entirely the inference of my furtive imagination?

            Of course sex education needs greater funding/more frankness (unlike the fundies, I don’t believe it causes pregnancies), but I think that education needs to reflect the experience that being in a position where you require an abortion has long-standing emotional consequences (see Skystar’s post above) for which no amount of trivialising the act of abortion will overcome.

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            • Lara says:

              Actually not all women who have abortions have long term emotional consequences. Many of them just feel relief and get on with their lives.

              What we need to be honest about here is the pro-life lobby’s insistence that women who have abortions have aborted a “baby” when embryo would be the most accurate term. And the pro-life lobby insists most women feel guilt and distress following abortion.

              What we also need to be honest about is that women forced to continue with their pregnancies will bear children they don’t want. And this would affect their relationship with those children and would forever change the course of the lives of both. That’s going to be more life changing.

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              • the pigman says:

                The argument that mum will fail to bond with a baby she doesn’t want assumes the newborn will not be made available for adoption. In New Zealand there is a defecit of newborns available for adoption to prospective parents who either can’t or won’t conceive. Same-sex adoption is now within arms reach (will happen in the next 12 – 36 months I’d guess) which will further compound this problem.

                But WAIT! I hear you say, “why should a woman go through 9 months of huge physical changes and stress just to grow a baby which will never be hers?”

                … which is exactly why I find the “pro-choice” position so closely aligned with selfish, fuck-you-Jack-I’m-OK neo-liberal thinking.

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                • Lara says:

                  I’ve been on the cusp of having to make that decision more than once when I was younger. And each time I knew very strongly that I would choose abortion.

                  It’s not selfish at all. It’s my desire to have control over my body.

                  To give birth and then hand that baby over to someone else to raise? With maybe only a promise that I would stay informed of the progress of the baby I gave birth to? The thought repels me. It’s abhorrent.

                  Saying it’s okay for nice middle class parents to adopt babies, when the babies are born mostly to younger and poorer women… ignores the financial reality. Because many abortions would be the result of a lack of financial choices and a lack of family support.

                  And that’s wrong on so many levels.

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                  • the pigman says:

                    So let me know if I have any of this wrong:

                    a) you find adoption abhorrent, notwithstanding the thousands of gay and straight NZ couples who will never conceive;
                    b) you see your body as your property; and
                    c) you would see a growing life inside you as your property to use or dispose of as you wish.

                    By chance, do you also believe children are the property of their parents?

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                    • Lara says:

                      I am saying that for myself, personally, I would find the idea of giving birth and handing over a baby abhorrent. Because I have given birth. And because I know how I felt being pregnant and giving birth.

                      I know that some women can do this and more power to them.

                      I am saying I do not consider an embryo to be a living human being.

                      I am saying that I consider it my right to determine when and how I will give birth. And when I was younger and faced with that decision I knew that I wanted an abortion.

                      I do not see my child has my property, and I never have. What a silly idea.

                      And finally, and this is the part that many people may disagree with (and that’s okay) I think that we need some honesty around adoption. I don’t think there is enough. I think that many women who give up babies for adoption find that very hard (not all and that’s okay). And many people who are adopted want to know who their birth parents are and why they were given away. And that having a child is not a “right” that infertile and gay couples are entitled to, especially when it means that (mostly) young and poorer women are forced through lack of financial resources or family support to give birth and hand over their babies.

                      And I originally bought up the issue of adoption because SG seems to be saying it’s a better / more viable choice than abortion. And I’m saying at the end of the day that’s up to the pregnant person to decide, not anyone else.

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                • Priss says:

                  Pigman – you seem very expert at telling us how women think, feel, behave, etc.

                  If you ever come back in the next life as a woman, and read a guy saying such a dumb thing, you can only then begin to understand how pissed off I am at men like you.

                  You know nothing about how a woman thinks and feels and has to cope in a society constructed by men for men.

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                  • the pigman says:

                    Puzzled – can you find one example of me telling women how to think/behave in this thread?

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                    • Lara says:

                      not quite, but you do come across as judgemental

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          • Gosman says:

            Maybe those comments should have been allowed to stand so people could make up their own minds about their abusive nature. There have been lots of comments making comparisons to Nazis that have been allowed before.

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            • Lara says:

              No.

              Women have had enough of being bullied and abused by the “pro-life” lobby. We don’t need to push against the same tired old bollocks every time we want to write about our access to basic health care.

              It’s exhausting. It’s been gone over hundreds of times. And it doesn’t move the argument forward at all.

              Gosman, if you want to see the kind of bollocks the “pro-life” lobby raise against women’s right to access basic reproductive health care then perhaps you could join BOT on Dominion Road?

              Alternatively, you could just go to read some comments on YouTube re abortion, the lowest common denominator of the internet. Or Facebook.

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              • Gosman says:

                Seems to me the argument about abuse goes both ways. I am anti-religious but even I can see how comments made by some pro abortion access campaigners could be see to be derogatory to religious people. Equally some of the anger expressed by anti-abortion people is totally out of line. That doesn’t mean the other side can respond in kind. If you censor the debate for a reason you should apply the same standards for both sides otherwise it just looks like you can dish it out but can’t take it.

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                • Priss says:

                  “Seems to me the argument about abuse goes both ways. – Gosman

                  Yeah. Cause it does. Because there are women outside churches, 24/7, holding up emotional-charged, horrible placards, abusing those who walk into the church. Because pro-choice women abuse, harangue, and threaten churchgoers.

                  Sorry, I must’ve missed when that last happened.

                  Tell me about “abuse going both ways” when you’re subjected to it Gosman.

                  I assume you’re a man cause only a man would be dumb enough to say such a crass thing.

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  16. BEATINGTHEBOKS says:

    Lot of comments above, haven’t read all of them but my opinion is that if a woman is so distressed by a pregnancy that she will consider suicide or a back street abortion, then it is inhumane not to offer the procedure. I personally don’t like it but ultimately it is for the greater good. I am disappointed at the small no of women that consider or use abortions as a means of contraception, but I don’t think anything anyone says will reach these people. Each conception has a chance of producing a unique individual that will change the world, whatever you think about abortion, that is a fact. Every termination is a tragedy, for whatever reason. Wear a condom or take the pill. Don’t be lazy. But in the modern world, sad as it is, terminations need to be available.

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  17. Blackdan says:

    An acorn is not a tree.
    A zygote is not a person.

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  18. Mimi says:

    Hi BOT,

    can you please clarify some points in your post:

    1/ “NZ’s Voice for Life is linked with several US-based groups…”

    Do you have evidence of this?

    2/ When you initially arrived, was it a member of the group praying that came out with the scores of comments you list there? (“Why don’t you shut your whore mouth?” etc)

    3/ Was the “stranger, twice your size” who abused you a member of the group praying or a passerby who became involved? Was it the same person that had made the initial comments to you or someone different?

    thanks,

    Mimi

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    • Burnt Out Teacher Burnt Out Teacher says:

      Hi Mimi,

      1) Voice for Life (formerly SPUC) liaise and share material (e.g. the US-produced video advertisements dubbed over with NZ accents and shown nationwide in NZ cinemas in the 1990s) constantly with US-based groups; that this continues was confirmed to me over the phone some time ago.

      2) The comments were a charming mix of reactions from the prayer group to my own angry questions, comments from pro-life passersby, and comments from the stranger (“why don’t you shut your whore mouth” was from him, for example; “maybe you should close your legs” etc was from a 40-days-vigil man).

      3) The stranger was definitely not a formal part of the prayer group. He works a few doors down and speaks with them daily. I went and had an hour-long conversation with him a few days later and he said he has been intimidating, yelling at and pushing people around a lot “for” them; they eventually asked him to stop. Thank goodness, because he’s a pretty large, unhinged and aggressive unit. It is shameful that the 40-days-vigil people called the police on women for swearing instead of on him.

      Cheers, BOT

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  19. Nicolai says:

    I should preface this comment by saying I support the pro-choice improvements to our current abortion laws. Hiding behind legal loopholes is ridiculous. But making this out to be a men vs women issue distracts from the true argument about the rights of a fetus. Your misandric focus only builds resistance to your cause.

    >A man (yeah, it’s usually a man) hurries up to you and yells at you about murder

    Polls on abortion clearly show men and women feel the same on the topic. Men are simply the enforcers of political struggles.

    >“Maybe you should close your legs if you don’t want to be pregnant.” (What about men closing their legs? Oh wait – you only want to control women’s behaviour.

    Except men don’t get a choice in abortion. “Maybe you should stop sticking your dick in things” is the exact advice men are given to avoid the consequences of pregnancy, which can be 18 years of child support. The young boy who was raped by a 36 year old woman last year had no choice in her pregnancy.

    nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10890674

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  20. Cassie says:

    What the HELL are you on about Burnt Out Teacher????

    IT is EASY to have an abortion in NZ.
    I KNOW from personal experience.
    I could have got one 20 yrs ago..just follow the protocols.
    (Changed my mind though, thank God).
    It’s STILL the same NOW.
    Someone close to me had one just recently. And her friends over past recent years.
    ANYONE can get one. They happen every day.
    There are NO obstructions.
    I don’t understand what you’re on about.

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    • BLACKDAN says:

      I want one if its that EASY! Imma go get knocked up tonight and get me an abortion if ANYONE can get one. It’s good to know there will be NO OBSTRUCTIONS, like vigil groups or pro-lifers stigmatizing me. It’s also comforting to know that this issue has been clarified thanks to YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. Thanks!

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    • Priss says:

      Oh yeah. Easy. So anti-abortion activists aren’t harassing you on your planet Cassie?

      You didn’t have to be assessed by multiple professionals who even though they seemed sympathetic were obviously bored at having their time wasted by such a pointless law??

      And you didn’t have to be the subject of moralistic twerps who feel they can pass judgement on us women because they have a “god” on their side??

      Lucky you. I’d like to live in your world.

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  21. Marama Davidson says:

    Great blog BOT thanks heaps for writing it.

    Chromosomes chromosomes zygotes. You could argue around those words for a long time.
    Just get out of the way so the woman can make her difficult choice, that is hers to make.

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    • josmile says:

      The compassionate thing would be to give these women in difficult situations the help they need.

      It is difficult to choice, so why not give them help so they don’t have to kill the unborn child. Put more resources into the help they really need, through pregnancy and what is needed after birth. And also into getting out of whatever the situation is that made them feel they had no choice but to abort – because for many women that is the reality, that they feel they have no choice but to kill their child.
      Being told that it is only a clump of cells, not a person etc. – those are terms used to influence choice by denying reality, and ultimately harmful.

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  22. Karen Rennie says:

    I read that the crime rate in the US dropped hugely. Someone figured out that legal abortion was made possible 15 years earlier. All those drug and alcohol dependent women, teenage girls, women in dire poverty, with abusive partners, with no partners, with mental illness, were choosing abortion rather than bringing a child that was unloved and unwanted into the world. Many of them went on to have their babies later, when they had had time to mature, had a job, had a partner, had security and had love to give that child.
    I also read recently that half of the teenage girls in Nigeria were pregnant with no father accepting responsibility and offering support. What becomes of those poor children?

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  23. kerri says:

    I had an termination in Jan. I have two kids already with my partner we have been together for 8yrs. I had complications in my pregnancies. I end up with very low platelets which is a warning for pre eclampsia/Hellp If you don’t know what it is here is the first line in paragraph in wiki
    Pre-eclampsia or preeclampsia is a multi system disorder characterized by high blood pressure and significant amounts of protein in the urine of a pregnant woman. Associated symptoms can include abnormal maternal laboratory tests and [intrauterine growth restriction].[1] If left untreated, it can develop into eclampsia, the life-threatening occurrence of seizures during pregnancy.

    I had that with my first pregnancy in my second I was fine, still very low platelets. But my 3rd pregnancy my platelets were below 100 “safe” levels are at 400-150 and this was at 6weeks. It took a month to organise the procedure. Had it at 8 weeks .The main reason I had the abortion was not for my health but our financial health. I was so stressed as we are struggling on one income min wage. If I continued with the pregnancy I would have been very unhappy and stressed.

    Yes I am sad but I’m happy that I wasn’t FORCED to give birth. I had a choice and I was looked after well and treated with respect. With love I made my choice. I knew in my heart this was the best decision

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    • John W says:

      The picture surely needs widening.

      We seem have little regard for the gloomy prospects facing humanity and the planet, but some are keen to constrain others using some religious rules or adopted morality, meanwhile the really big consequence of all of that is absent from discussion.

      To date one country has made a humane attempt to limit population. China has a birth rate of 0.86 live births per female in their cities. Eventually their population will peak and decline if world food supplies do not cause a shift to a more rapid decline.

      Population is the driver for collapse of civilisation and all that goes with that.

      Religion and sexual morality have both been a part of recruiting more souls to bolster tribal numbers. But consequence of over shoot in population seems to be divorced from religious / sexual morality discussion.

      The most pressing problem humans face today is related to a range of consequences from past and present human behaviour.

      Surely if we wish to retain the greater values of human kindness and love then some intelligent planning is needed.

      Not bickering over almost personal religious beliefs.

      Show me a religious group or church that is active in promoting and acting on solutions for climate change, population reduction, reducing industrialisation and energy use, reforestation, repairing the oceans, reversing the loss of species and habitat, stopping emissions then reducing the CO2, methane and nitrous gases in the atmosphere, processing and eliminating nuclear waste and fighting corporate lies leading us further into the mire – and I will be appreciative to know such a group exists.

      Instead of passing around the plate to the blinded faithful.

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      • Lara says:

        A humane attempt to limit population? Is that what you call China’s one child policy? Have you done any reading on how it is implemented?

        Try this: “A mother’s ordeal” by Chi An.

        Try forced sterilisation, forced abortion (including late term), forced insertion of IUD’s and forcible hysterectomy.

        You don’t need to force women to have less babies. You simply need to respect that women can be allowed to fully control their fertility. And you simply need to give them access to reproductive health care.

        It’s interesting that as living standards rise our birth rates tend to fall. Originally I thought that this would be the answer to population growth. But parts of the middle east are wealthy and still have high birth rates. I think the answer is both; a decent standard of living and access to birth control and abortion, along with respecting the right of women to choose what is best for themselves without judgement.

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  24. Karla says:

    Now, I may have this wrong… but isn’t “God” meant to be the one to pass judgement? As far as I was aware, it’s not our place to judge others and what they do.

    What happened to “turn the other cheek” and “”he who is without sin, caste the first stone”.

    I don’t belong to any religion, but it’s certainly not any of my (or any one else’s) business what an individual decides to do with their body!

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  25. Cassie says:

    I stand by what I said earlier- Abortions are EASY to obtain in NZ via the normal medical channels.
    YES EVEN whilst they are formally “Illegal”.
    I do not know of/ have heard of a a SINGLE case where a woman has been declined for one..- Do YOU? (QUESTION).
    So, what IS the problem exactly?

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    • BLACKDAN says:

      We love it when you SHOUT!

      The legality or accessibility of abortions is not the main problem, but thank you for continuing to assert your stance on this side issue.

      The exact problem: The intelligent people on here are sick to abortion-y death of religious DAMN AUTOCORRECT I MEAN SUPERSTITIOUS, uneducated, conservatives who want to decide the fate of a woman with an unwanted pregnancy.

      I really can’t simplify it much more than that. Would hand puppets would it make it easier?

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    • Priss says:

      Cassie- what is your major malfunction??

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  26. josmile says:

    zygote, morula, blastocyst, embryo, fetus

    To put an end to the too, and fro-ing of what an unborn child is. Here are links to two websites.

    http://medical-dictionary-search-engines.com/encyclopedia/?encyclopedia_name_url=767&level=2
    http://americanpregnancy.org/duringpregnancy/fetaldevelopment1.htm

    The change as the child develops is quantitative, not qualitative (in opposition to an earlier comment). She is a human child from the moment of conception. The only qualitative change is what occurs when the egg and sperm combine. Before that there is only the parent’s gametes, then from the miracle that is life, suddenly we have a unique new human being who only needs suitable nourishment, environment and time to develop from the one cell zygote, all the way to adult this child will one day become.

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  27. Muerk says:

    I’m a woman with a uterus who has had four high risk pregnancies and four vaginal births. I agree with SG – once a new human person is conceived then, like every other human person, they have a right to life.

    Since you refuse to acknowledge the humanity of an unborn human person, SG’s argument revolts you because you see the autonomy of the parent as a greater right than the parent’s own unborn child. Well, you don’t even see the unborn child, you just see “tissue” with the moral equivalence of sperm or ovum.

    So, if his lack of experience of pregnancy, birth, and the other joys that come with the possession of a uterus make you ignore his rational arguments, just pretend that it’s me saying it, with my uterus right there, loud and proud.

    Of course SG could be a transgender man who indeed does have a uterus. In which case dismissing him because he is a man is deeply unfair.

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  28. Merrial says:

    @ Cassie: Abortions are EASY to obtain in NZ via the normal medical channels.
    YES EVEN whilst they are formally “Illegal”.
    I do not know of/ have heard of a a SINGLE case where a woman has been declined for one..- Do YOU? (QUESTION).
    So, what IS the problem exactly?”

    I wonder if you’ve read the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977, along with Section 187A of the Crimes Act 1961. All those women you know – or know of – who’ve had abortions will have been obliged to go through this process. No matter how easy it may be to get an abortion, this is very onerous, especially for women who don’t live in, or near, a population centre in which certifying consultants are located.

    Here’s the thing: the law should be silent on abortion, just as it is on other gynecological procedures such as surgical intervention in the case of ectopic pregnancies, hysterectomies, cone biopsies and the like.

    There is no biological distinction that can plausibly be drawn between abortion and all other forms of contraception; if those other forms of contraception are legal, abortion ought also to be legal.

    People are welcome to adduce moral or religious reasons for objecting to abortion, but these reasons can apply only to their own engagement with the issue. They cannot expect the rest of us who aren’t religious to accept such strictures.

    It isn’t my business if a woman wishes to have an abortion. And I want to see repeal of the legislation which attempts to regulate access to abortion.

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    • Sarah says:

      There is no biological distinction that can plausibly be drawn between abortion and all other forms of contraception

      As a mother and biologist I can tell you that is false.
      Contraception, means to prevent conceptions. Once conception takes place there is a new human life. Abortion kills that new human. It is like the difference between not boarding a train and jumping off it once it has reached 100 miles an hour.

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  29. Merrial says:

    @ Sarah: “I can tell you that is false. Contraception, means to prevent conceptions. Once conception takes place there is a new human life.”

    Er, no: it’s not false. The purpose of all forms of contraception is to prevent pregnancy; if the intended outcome is the same, you’re on shaky ground trying to draw a plausible biological distinction between them.

    For some women, fertilisation can still occur, despite their using the oral contraceptive or the IUD. Both these methods change the uterine environment so as to prevent implantation, in which they’re mostly successful. Although not always: many of us know women who’ve become pregnant while on the oral contraceptive.

    Much of the argy-bargy around contraception centres on the issue of when people believe life begins. Pro-choicers think that it begins at implantation, so they don’t oppose contraceptives that prevent implantation. Pro-lifers, on the other hand, believe that life begins at conception: from your comments, it seems that you’re in this camp. Which really commits you to opposing the use of such contraceptives.

    “Abortion kills that new human.”

    If you’re claiming this about abortion, by extension you must also accept that it applies to those contraceptives which disrupt implantation.

    I recommend that you go read Rachael Goldsmith’s blog on the issue of abortion, posted on this site 19 September 2013. In the comment thread, you’ll find Daniel Copeland’s contributions: well worth a read, especially his debate with himself. Here’s the link:

    http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/09/19/whats-the-real-issue-with-abortion/

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    • josmile says:

      Believing when life begins should be based on reality. Not saying, “this is reality, because this is my belief.”
      Believing that life begins at implantation and not conception falsely denies that the reality that the newly conceived has already being living for several days. Belief should be based on reality, not claim the other way around.

      When, ‘contraception’ works by preventing implantation, it is working as an abortifacient, not a contraceptive. There are women who are otherwise pro-contraception who won’t take some contraception because they can work as an abortifacient.

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    • Sarah K says:

      Wrong Merrial, this is an area in which I have some expertise.
      Contraception means just that, prevent conception. Yes that means conception can take place with some contraception. In the cases where the hormones have allowed conception to take place and prevents implantation, it has not worked as a contraception, but as an abortifacient. “The pill”, works sometimes as an abortifacient.
      Laws were changed to define pregnancy as from implantation, not because it was based on fact, but for the convenience that at the time it was not possible to determine that conception had taken place – it begins and conception – that is a scientific fact.

      Your argument that when life begins is based on belief is a nonsense. Belief that conflicts with the facts should be discarded. The days between conception and implantation she is alive.

      You assume I oppose contraception because I oppose killing before implantation. As just explained, the two are not the same. I do not oppose preventing conception per se, I oppose what harms women, so I oppose some methods of preventing conception because they harm women. My two main reasons for opposing chemical contraceptives are medical and philosophical.

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  30. Samantha says:

    I love you a lot!!!! Great article, thank you :)

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  31. Merrial says:

    @ Sarah K: “Wrong Merrial…”
    Nope. And I have on my side that august body, the Vatican, which has applied all its intellectual and philosophical firepower to the issue. It’s come to the same conclusion: it isn’t possible to draw a plausible biological distinction between abortion and all other forms of contraception. Therefore the Catholic church opposes all forms of contraception.

    On the other hand, those of us who aren’t religious use this conclusion to push for safe, legal abortions.

    Arguments put forward in opposition to abortion are essentially religious. People are welcome to hold such views and, if they do, to refuse abortion as an option for themselves. But they can’t force their views on others, or attempt to change the law so as to restrict access to abortions for the rest of us. We don’t live in a theocracy.

    It’s nobody else’s business if women choose to have abortions: don’t pray outside abortion clinics; don’t harangue other women about it; don’t proffer adoption as a “solution” to an unwanted pregnancy. Keep your views to yourselves.

    “Your argument that when life begins is based on belief is a nonsense”
    Not my argument at all; I suspect that you haven’t read carefully enough what I wrote. I was pointing out that this is what pro-lifers and pro-choicers argue about. Nothing that I’d argue for, I can assure you!

    “You assume I oppose contraception because I oppose killing before implantation”
    Again, nope. I made no assumptions at all. I was pointing out that, if you believe life begins at conception, it puts you in the pro-life camp. And this belief also commits you to opposing forms of contraception which disrupt implantation. Which it appears you do.

    I do hope that you’ve read Rachael Goldsmith’s blog, and the related comment thread. It’s well worth the time.

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    • Sarah K says:

      Vatican, which has applied all its intellectual and philosophical firepower to the issue. It’s come to the same conclusion: it isn’t possible to draw a plausible biological distinction between abortion and all other forms of contraception.

      I’m not a Catholic, so I asked some friends about this. They have never heard of the Vatican biologically equating the abortion and contraception. Evidence please? Justify you comment please.

      Therefore the Catholic church opposes all forms of contraception.

      I’ve not heard that either, nor does it make sense. Please give me quotes of the reasons and references the Vatican gives.

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      • Merrial says:

        @ Sarah K: I’m guessing neither you nor your friends have been alive long enough to be aware of this:

        http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html

        In particular, this:
        “We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. (14) Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)”

        The church has not changed its stance one iota in all those years. And its views are freely available to all, by way of the Vatican website. Did you not take notice of what the new pope was reported to have discussed in this regard with Obama when they met recently? Despite all the fawning over this new papal fellow, his views on contraception are the same as those of Paul VI, pope when that 1968 encyclical was promulgated:

        http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2014/03/05/theres-no-need-to-change-church-teaching-on-contraception-says-pope-francis/

        The quote above from the 1968 encyclical neatly illustrates the church’s stance on all forms of contraception. And of course it makes philosophical and theological sense. Those of us who aren’t religious, or even theists, can acknowledge this, while being under no obligation to take a blind bit of notice of it.

        The clergy of the church are very well-educated in both philosophy and theology; they know this stuff backwards, and the arguments the church makes on the issue of contraception are philosophically and theologically coherent.

        As I said above, being pro-life commits you to opposing forms of contraception which disrupt implantation; I could’ve gone the whole hog and told you that being pro-life puts you firmly in the catholic church’s camp on this matter, whether or not you realise it.

        “I do not oppose preventing conception per se, I oppose what harms women, so I oppose some methods of preventing conception because they harm women. My two main reasons for opposing chemical contraceptives are medical and philosophical.”

        This stance is philosophically – not to mention medically – incoherent, and the church would agree with me. Go read, and you’ll see what I mean.

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  32. YogiBare says:

    http://www.democracynow.org/2014/3/27/targeted_by_firebombing_legislation_and_now

    This type of behaviour tends to negate the pro-lifers arguments.

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    • Merrial says:

      @ Yogibare: “This type of behaviour tends to negate the pro-lifers arguments.”

      Indeed. It’s a bizarre way for people, many of them Christians, to attempt to persuade others to accept their point of view. In my view, it bespeaks insecurity about the strength of their argument, that they must intimidate others into compliance with their beliefs.

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