Abortion, Obama

November 4, 2008 | 137 comments
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Barack Obama is the most pro-choice/pro-abortion candidate to ever run for President in any major party.

He is a co-sponsor for the so-called Freedom of Choice Act, which would force all 50 states to have permissive abortion regimes. He promises to get this law passed as one of his first acts as President.

Youtube here and here.

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He opposes the Partial Birth Abortion Act that passed the United States Senate 64-34. He sharply criticized the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the Partial Birth Abortion Act.

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Barack Obama favors federal funding of abortion. He opposes the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits federal abortion funding).

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On the other hand he wants to cut off federal funds to crisis pregnancy centers.

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Obama has refused to sign on to the Pregnant Women Support Act, the signature legislation of the Democrats for Life.

http://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2008/09/correction-obam.html

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As an Illinois State Senator, Obama was the key figure in repeatedly defeating the Illinois version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. At the time, in Illinois, babies who were born alive as part of an abortion procedure had no legal protections unless the abortionist decided that they were viable. This applied both to botched abortions and to a procedure called ‘live birth abortion’ where abortionists would deliberately induce delivery of premature babies and then let them die after birth. Nurses from one Illinois hospital testified that after many so-called ‘live birth’ abortions, the babies were put into a soiled laundry room to die, which often took hours.

The Illinois law would have required that these born-alive babies recieved the same treatment that other premature babies would have recieved under the same circumstances. Obama opposed this. He also opposed a compromise version of the law that would have given babies no protection if they weren’t ‘viable’ but would have required a second opinion on their viability. He also opposed a version of the law that was virtually identical to the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act that passed the US House 400+ to 15 and passed the US Senate unanimously. Obama has later claimed that he would have supported the federal version, but has never recanted or apologized for his opposition to the identical state version.

In my judgment Obama’s record on this act amounts to a defense of a limited right to infanticide and should alone disqualify him from office.

NRLC white paper with links to primary sources.

Audio of Obama’s oppostion to the act.

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He has opposed parental notification laws (and the Freedom of Choice Act which he supports would overrule parental notification laws in any case).

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Under his watch the Democratic platform was changed to remove the language calling for abortion to be rare.

http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/2008/08/draft-democratic-platform-plan.html

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I’m not sure whether Obama is personally opposed to abortion, at least not when it comes to his own children.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHxChwtSPxA

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Obama has a 100% rating from NARAL, the extreme pro-choice/pro-abortion group. He has a 0% rating from the National Life to Right Council, the main pro-life advocacy group.

http://www.ontheissues.org/Social/Barack_Obama_Abortion.htm

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Barack Obama has repeatedly defended Roe v. Wade and will likely have a pro-choice/pro-abortion litmus test for his Supreme Court appointees.

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Links of interest:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/20/us/politics/20checkpoint.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/19/AR2008081903228.html?hpid%253Dtopnews

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/viewarticle.php?selectedarticle=2008.10.24_New_Michael%20J._Pro-Life%20Politicians%20Have%20Made%20a%20Difference,%20Pro-Life%20Laws%20Work_.xml

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/01/17/politics/main2369157.shtml

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/viewarticle.php?selectedarticle=2008.10.16_George_Robert_Obama%20and%20Infanticide_.xml

http://hotair.com/archives/2008/10/30/planned-parenthood-admits-infanticide-happens/comment-page-1/#comment-1578464

http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080428/EDITORIAL07/122506990/1013/EDITORIAL

http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4231&Itemid=48

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NzE1Y2MyMmFjMWYzNmUwYTA4NGUwNmJmYzY1MzQyMGQ=

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MzNjMjA3NDg1NzIwY2JiNTE4NTI3M2ZkYjJjMmIxZTY=

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NGIzMzA4ODViYTk4Yzc4MDgwMjRiMGRkOTY4M2JmY2I

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=N2NmMGNkMTdkZWJkZWRkMjRkNjY5NjllNzZlYjkyNmY=

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZTBkYTYzZDNjNDgyMWJmMzMxYzljYjYxNmEwMTdhYWE

http://race42008.com/2008/08/18/obama-changes-his-tune-on-baipa/

http://ace.mu.nu/archives/270884.php

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NmU4NWQ5NjA5YTY4MTlkZTAwYjU1NTljZDM2ZTQwMDk=

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=Y2UzN2QzYmZhMzZkNjhlNjA4ZGJiZTQ3MzExOWRkOGU=

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MGU5NTVkOWM0OWIzNWU4YWY2YjkzYTI5YTU4M2ZhODY=

http://minx.cc/?post=271053

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=Nzk2M2VkMWQ2YTk4ZDVkMTM0YjM3ZjU4YTNhZDEzMjQ

http://race42008.com/2008/08/21/the-vote-that-will-cost-obama-the-presidency-update/#comments

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NzRhZTgzNmRlZWE0MTA1YTM4NWMxN2UxMjA5YjBkZTE=&w=MQ==

http://hotair.com/archives/2008/10/21/the-comprehensive-argument-against-barack-obama/

It would be hard to be an Obama supporter without being ignorant on his abortion stance or culpably indifferent to the unborn. This does not mean that it is necessary to vote for his opponent. However, despite my misgivings* I will likely be pulling the lever for John McCain, giving his strong pro-life record and his running mate, Sarah Palin. In a time when 90% of all children with Down Syndrom are aborted, I strongly admire the Palins’ refusal to abort their child Trig and think that America needs public examples like them.

*John McCain is likely pro-amnesty on immigration, is only partially and halfheartedly conservative, and has pro-regulation instincts that are troubling given our national economic turmoil.

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137 Responses to Abortion, Obama

  1. Kathryn Lynard Soper on November 3, 2008 at 11:06 am

    I will never understand why the party (and the candidate) so eager to protect the poor, the elderly, and the otherwise vulnerable supports such vicious policies re the unborn.

  2. Nate Oman on November 3, 2008 at 11:17 am

    “It would be hard to be an Obama supporter without being ignorant of his abortion stance or culpably indifferent to the unborn.”

    Adam, I don’t think that this follows, despite the fact that I think that Obama’s positions on abortion are ultimately indefensible. On the other hand, presidents do all sorts of things other than make abortion policy, and even on abortion their ability to ultimately shape policy is limited. I think that it is possible for a person to make a reasonable choice to support Obama despite his positions on abortion if they think that on balance he will be a better leader across a wide variety of issues.

    Non-single issue voters are not immoral.

  3. MikeInWeHo on November 3, 2008 at 11:24 am

    “It would be hard to be an Obama supporter without being ignorant on his abortion stance or culpably indifferent to the unborn.”

    Not necessarily. There are millions of people who oppose abortion, yet believe that making women and doctors criminals is not the most effective way of reducing its incidence. Given the Republican track record of rank hypocrisy on the issue it might well be a Democratic president who actually leads the way to reducing abortion rates in the U.S.

  4. Adam Greenwood on November 3, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Even minor abortion restrictions, like the parental notification laws that Obama opposes, have reduced abortion rates.

    The Republican track record on abortion is actually pretty good. The people who criticize it as insufficiently pro-life tend to be people like yourself who support abortion. Their crocodile concern for pro-lifers speaks for itself. The GOP is responsible for the Hyde Amendment and the Mexico City policy (keeping abortions from being federally funded). The GOP is responsible for the Born Alive Infant Protection Act and the Partial Birth Abortion Act. The GOP is also responsible for every functionally pro-life vote on the Supreme Court. In any case, thinking that there are spots on the GOP’s pro-life record would not be a reason to support the terrifyingly pro-abortion record of Mr. Obama.

  5. Bro. Jones on November 3, 2008 at 11:28 am

    If you don’t like abortion, don’t get one. I loathe abortion, but I’m extremely uncomfortable with making it illegal. Besides, it’s generally just not big enough of a dealbreaker for me to overshadow other issues.

  6. Jim Cobabe on November 3, 2008 at 11:31 am

    I agree woleheartedly. Obama’s voting record indicates a liberal slant more extreme than most any other member of Congress, though he talks a far different talk in his campaign speechs and his promises.

    Altogether, he generally does not bother to show up to vote at all.

    But I really don’t like either candidate from the major parties.

  7. Adam Greenwood on November 3, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Jones,
    if you don’t like robbery, don’t commit one. If you don’t like infanticide, don’t kill babies. If you don’t like rape, don’t rape. If you don’t like check fraud, don’t write fraudulent checks. Etc.

  8. Kent G. Budge on November 3, 2008 at 11:34 am

    “If you don’t like abortion, don’t get one.”

    If you don’t like murder, don’t commit one.

  9. Chris H. on November 3, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Ah, another reason why I am voting for Obama. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. DeeAnn on November 3, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Why are people so \”uncomfortable with making it illegal?\” If a mother kills her baby at 1 day old, there\’s a penalty. Why is it that one day before that we get all squeamish? Yes, it may \”inconvenience\” the mother to carry the baby to term. So what, considering the alternative.

  11. Frank McIntyre on November 3, 2008 at 11:36 am

    I don’t agree that voting for Obama makes one culpably indifferent (what does that mean?) to the unborn — for the reasons Nate cites.

    On the other hand, If ever there was a chance to peel back a little of the judicial overshadowing on abortion, this may have been the chance to do it. And with hundreds of thousands or millions of abortions a year, that is a pretty big deal. Once you start thinking about it, it can be hard to think about anything else. I am not sure what the optimal abortion policy is, but I am reasonably confident that we aren’t at it.

    Back on the other hand, McCain seems like the sort of guy to give us another Kennedy or Souter.

  12. Adam Greenwood on November 3, 2008 at 11:41 am

    You may be right. On the one hand, the Federalist Society and pro-lifers in general are much better at vetting Supreme Court nominees than they used to be. On the other hand, John McCain would have a Democratic Senate to get through. On the third hand, a Kennedy (who voted to sustain the Partial Birth Abortion Act) would be much better than a Ginsburg.

    Currently we abort a little bit less than a million babies/foetuses/clumps of tissue that look like babies a year. This is off the peak of around 1.1 million, if memory serves.

  13. Matt Evans on November 3, 2008 at 11:44 am

    In the primaries McCain promised to appoint justices like Roberts and Alito, like Bush did to appoint justices like Scalia and Thomas. It’s the best thing (only good thing?) Bush did as president.

    Nice post, Adam.

  14. Phouchg on November 3, 2008 at 11:48 am

    I think there are larger issues facing our country than Abortion and Gay Marriage. You would do better to focus on the very legitimate concerns many have over Obama’s views on finance and economics and leave the social issues in the pews on Sunday.

  15. Nate Oman on November 3, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Phouchg: For what it is worth, my biggest concern about Obama has to do with his attitude toward financial regulation, and more importantly his apparent unwillingness to ever stand up to major democratic constituencies or interests. The thought of Barney Frank and Seth Waxman remaking American capitalism for the next generation scares me to death.

    On the other hand, abortion IS a part of public policy given that we have debates about how it ought to be regulated and/or subsidized. I don’t think that it is the most important political issue facing the electorate or anything like it, but it matters far beyond the pews on Sunday.

  16. Frank McIntyre on November 3, 2008 at 11:57 am

    “It’s the best thing (only good thing?) Bush did as president. ”

    Here here.

    “You would do better to focus on the very legitimate concerns many have over Obama’s views on finance and economics and leave the social issues in the pews on Sunday. ”

    Here’s something completely hypothetical, but perhaps informative. If I valued a human fetus’ life at, to pick a number out of a hat, one fifth what I value a born human life, this would put each abortion as costing society the welfare equivalent of around half a million to a million dollars, depending on what number one uses for a human life (most cost/benefit analyses put a life in the 2-6 million dollar range). Suppose we could cut that number in half. Using the low value numbers, this would be the social welfare equivalent of ($500,000*500,000) about 250 billion dollars a year. So that seems like a pretty big deal– even discounting the value of a fetus pretty heavily from a born life and treating a born life as being near the low end of estimates of it’s value.

  17. Julie M. Smith on November 3, 2008 at 11:59 am

    I will not vote for anyone who puts air quotes around my health.

  18. djinn on November 3, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Exactly, If you don’t think abortion should be available for conditions that threaten the “health” of the mother, don’t have a pregnancy where something goes seriously wrong.

  19. Dan on November 3, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    When all else fails, Mormons fall back on the abortion issue. Smells like desperation from Mr. Greenwood. Maybe he will succeed in getting McCain back over 60% in Utah.

  20. Mike Parker on November 3, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Republican hypocrisy on this issue runs wide and deep. The same party that proclaims a “culture of life” has also been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis and the displacement of millions more.

    Until accidental air strikes on Afghani wedding parties are no longer denied and covered up, Republican calls to “protect life” ring hollow in my ears.

  21. Geoff B on November 3, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    “hear, hear!”

    Anyway, it’s nice to see a post like this with supporting documentation. It’s amazing to me to see the twists and turns people are taking with their own morality to support a pro-abortion candidate. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard, “I don’t support Obama on very many issues, but…” and then they go through a convoluted, illogical process to arrive at an “explanation” for why they are voting for him, I could afford to buy the saltlakecitytemple.com domain name.

  22. gst on November 3, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Don’t be a single-issue voter, Adam. You should vote for Obama because when it comes to making your mortgage payment and gasoline bill, he’s got your back.

  23. SW on November 3, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    I’m surprised Mr. Greenwood supports Sarah Palin, a working mother with 4 month old special needs child. Who’s watching the kid? oh yeah, her knocked up 17 yo who seems to not have to go to school. President Benson warned about working mothers and for that reason I am not suppporting the Mcain/Palin ticket. (sarcasm)

  24. Steve on November 3, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    I am so deeply disturbed by this. Any politician who can take such a callous stand on this issue is too dangerous to be given the reigns of this country. If there is anything that is crucial for a president it is that they have compassion for the people they govern. I can understand if people hold different views as to when life begins but when you actively oppose measures to succor living breathing human beings that is another matter entirely. That same interference towards human life could inform foreign policy, immigration policy, and economic policy. Without that moral check of compassion we are capable of the most horrific acts imaginable. Even in the most free and advanced societies like the U.S. or like 1930’s Germany.

  25. Geoff J on November 3, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Kathryn Lynard Soper: I will never understand why the party (and the candidate) so eager to protect the poor, the elderly, and the otherwise vulnerable supports such vicious policies re the unborn.

    That is a decent point. Of course the converse of that is “I will never understand why the party (and the candidate) so eager to protect the unborn supports such awful policies re the poor, the elderly, and the otherwise vulnerable.”

    I’ve been saying it a lot lately but here goes again: It seems to me that based on our scriptures we Mormons ought to be basically conservatives on moral issues and basically liberal on economic issues.

    The problem is that the two major parties split on those issues so no matter which party you choose you are stuck with something we don’t/shouldn’t want. Lately I have been leaning more toward the economic issues as the more weighty. I’ll blame brother Nibley for that.

  26. Seth R. on November 3, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    What guarantee do any of us have that McCain isn’t exactly the sort of guy who would appoint another Justice Kennedy?

  27. jimbob on November 3, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    “I will not vote for anyone who puts air quotes around my health.”

    I assume, Julie, that you know he did this because most of the abortions justified by “health reasons” in this country (where necessary) were about the mother’s mental health, meaning that all the mother had to do was say she felt like she would be overwhelmed by a pregnancy. I forget the name, but there was an entire S.C. case about it a few years back.

  28. dan on November 3, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    I don’t agree with Obama’s stance on abortion. But I think that this single issue doesn’t even come close to outweighing all of the reasons I’m going to vote for him. (or should I say NOT vote for McCain/Palin). Keep in mind, turning a blind eye to the hundreds of thousands that die in a needless war is just as awful.

  29. Mark D. on November 3, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    There is nothing “liberal” about any of Obama’s stands on economic issues.

  30. Julie M. Smith on November 3, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard, “I don’t support McCain on very many issues, but…” and then they go through a convoluted, illogical process to arrive at an “explanation” for why they are voting for him, I could afford to buy something much cooler than a domain name.

  31. gst on November 3, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Dan, I think it’s safe to say that Senator McCain is not heedless of the costs of war.

  32. bbell on November 3, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Adam,

    You are correct on the abortion issue. The voting record is to be honest astounding.

  33. Nate Oman on November 3, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Geoff: I am fine if you decide the economic issues are more important (I actually tend to think that way as well). On the other hand, economic policy needs to be judged by its actual impacts, and I would point out that Nibley is an extremely poor guide in this area. Whatever his other virtues, he was fairly ignorant of social science and economics. This is not a standard Nibley-was-against-capitalism-so-he’s-wrong rant. Rather my point is that while Nibley displayed a voracious curiousity on a lot of subjects, including popular science, poetry, and literature, he seems to have had no curiousity about economics. For example, nothwithstanding his footnote fetish, one will search in vain for any evidence that he was aware — let alone interested in — any contemporary debates within economics about the wealth and poverty of nations.

  34. Julie M. Smith on November 3, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Re #16,

    Frank, that’s interesting. Two data point to add:

    (1) even draconian abortion policy won’t make all abortions stop. So we can’t count those. (In the age of RU486, how many can we fairly count?)

    (2) we need to charge GOP policies related to war, neglect of poor, and health care and calculate a value for those lives lost.

    What would those numbers look like?

  35. Geoff J on November 3, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I don’t disagree with any of that Nate (#33). I have complained about some of the same things with Nibley in the past. What Nibley did for me is open my eyes to the fact that our scriptures talk about caring for the poor and creating a more economically egalitarian society over and over and over again. I am disappointed when we Mormons let single issues like this abortion issue completely outweigh the more pressing messages of the scriptures.

  36. jjohnsen on November 3, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Luckily I’m not a single-issue voter like so many of my LDS neighbors seem to be this year, so I happily cast my vote for Obama last week. Thanks for helping me feel even better about my decision though Adam.

  37. Aluwid on November 3, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Seth,

    “What guarantee do any of us have that McCain isn’t exactly the sort of guy who would appoint another Justice Kennedy?”

    As Adam mentioned earlier, a second Justice Kennedy would be much preferred over another Ginsburg.

    In the worst case McCain would totally screw up and give us a Justice that is just as bad as Obama was planning on nominating anyway. So McCain has a lot of upside potential, but with Obama and a Democratic Senate you’re going to get an activist, no question about it.

  38. gst on November 3, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Where are the bodies of all of these poor Americans, dead from GOP neglect? If I had a dollar for every Mormon liberal in the bloggernacle, I could self-publish my own vanity guide to the Gospels.

  39. djinn on November 3, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    As well as casually discounting women’s health (which often means, in the case of medically-required late term abortions, fertility), McCain also voted against free rape exams for women who have been sexually assaulted, against insurance companies covering birth control, and against SCHIP. So, all you misogynists, and people who feel that children have no need to be covered by health care, he’s your man.

    [AHG--dunno who moderated this. Its a pretty worthless comment, but if y'all Triums want to let it out, go ahead]

  40. Nate Oman on November 3, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Geoff J.: It seems to me that concern with abortion is perfectly consonant with concern over the most vulnerable members of society, rather than something that one is concerned with as a distriction from it. Furthermore, skepticism about certain kinds of transfer payments and enthusiasm for free trade and efficient commerce can be motivated by a concern for the least well off if one believes that such things benefit the poor.

    For what it is worth, I favor a modestly redistributive state and a legal regime that favors a dynamic market place precisely becaue I think that his is the combination of policies that is most likely to lead to dminished poverty in the long run.

  41. Peter LLC on November 3, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    This would bother me, except I’m not a single-issue voter. Such is life when you only get two choices.

    Where are the bodies

    That’s what they pay cleaners for. Ask Harvey Keitel.

  42. Mark D. on November 3, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Geoff J,

    When the scriptures talk about economic issues, it is always in terms of private morality – not oppressing the laborer in his wages, letting the poor glean from the fields, not being harsh in the collection of debts, giving generous tithes and offerings, and so on. Nowhere is there the suggestion that governments should get into the large scale wealth redistribution business. “Thou shalt not steal” implies quite the opposite.

  43. gst on November 3, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Yeah, right, professor. You favor grinding the heel of your jackboot in the face of the poor. Admit it.

  44. djinn on November 3, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Not to mention the fact that making contraception more easily available makes abortions more rare.

  45. Nate Oman on November 3, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    “Where are the bodies of all of these poor Americans, dead from GOP neglect?”

    Hidden by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Also, Republicans hate kittens and puppies. Didn’t you get the memo?

  46. gst on November 3, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Mr. Wolf!

  47. Martin Willey on November 3, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    I had no idea I would like Julie Smith so much!

  48. Timer on November 3, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    “Here’s something completely hypothetical, but perhaps informative. If I valued a human fetus’ life at, to pick a number out of a hat, one fifth what I value a born human life, this would put each abortion as costing society the welfare equivalent of around half a million to a million dollars, depending on what number one uses for a human life (most cost/benefit analyses put a life in the 2-6 million dollar range). Suppose we could cut that number in half. Using the low value numbers, this would be the social welfare equivalent of ($500,000*500,000) about 250 billion dollars a year.”

    Frank, the reasons you will never convince a pro-choicer with this analysis include the following:

    1. I’d guess that most people don’t value a one-or-two-gram fetus (this is roughly the median size of aborted fetuses in this country) as having as much value as a fifth of a born human life. If you were leaving a burning building and for some reason (construct your own scenario) you could save either 100 one-gram fetuses or one eight-year-old girl, which would you save? Not so easy, is it? At least not for everyone. Now, if you use a hundredth the value of a born human life as your number, this takes you down to 12.5 billion dollars per year.

    2. There is some evidence that the babies that result from successfully prevented abortions are more likely to commit crime, more likely to have disabilities, more likely to be poor, less likely to one day pay a lot of taxes, etc. Enough to possibly cost as much as 12.5 billion per year? Who knows?

    3. There may be some (hard to compute, impossible to agree upon) value to allowing women to make their own decisions. Worth 12.5 billion per year? To some people, probably yes.

    As Obama loves to say, reasonable people who genuinely care about fetuses can come to different conclusions on the cost benefit analysis.

    Now, if you had a way of preventing unwanted pregancies altogether, you could achieve the benefits you envision without the costs in 2 and 3. Everyone would agree that this would be worthwhile, including Obama.

    And after he ushers in a new era of civility to Washington, ends divisive partisanship once and for all, and begins uniting Americans and getting things done, maybe he’ll pull it off.

    Hope, anyone?

    Anyone?

  49. Frank McIntyre on November 3, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Julie,

    #1 — I just chopped the number in half, based on exactly this reasoning.

    #2 — It is obvious from U.S. public policy that we do not value foreign lives at anywhere near the rate we value U.S. lives, but there is no good reason for that.

    Start with the war — Bush is not running, so the question is would McCain’s policy of staying in Iraq be better or worse than Obama’s policy of going more heavily into Afghanistan? Tough to say, but a great question to think about. That said, you need a lot of deaths/year to get up to the kinds of numbers I was talking about above. If you think those numbers go strongly against McCain, then that’s definitely worth considering.

    Neglect of poor — I honestly am not sure what you have in mind. How has McCain shown a willingness to neglect the poor? I strongly doubt that the difference between McCain and Obama will amount to a serious death toll among the poor. And without that it is going to be difficult to get numbers that compare to $250 billion/year. We currently spend vastly less than that on all welfare payments through food stamps and TANF and EITC. Is McCain opposed to that? There is the CHIP program expansion to give health insurance to middle income kids. Is that what you are thinking of? Is McCain opposed to that? Frankly, I don’t think lack of government health insurance is killing off a large number of middle income children. I don’t even think it is killing off a moderate number of middle income chlidren.

    Health care: Oddly enough, Obama’s economic advisor, Furman, was advocating a plan a lot like McCain’s just a few years ago. A priori, there is no reason to think that Obama’s plan is going to be better for health care in the U.S. It strengthens the very unfortunate practice of tying health care to employment– something that I think is widely disparaged by health economists as a bad move for health care– and that McCain is actually trying to sever. So I’d probably put McCain in the lead on this one.

  50. Julie M. Smith on November 3, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    #38: Your numbers are way off on both counts.

    (1) My book was about 200$ IIRC. There are _way_ more liberal LDS bloggers than that–you could publish a whole SHELF of books!

    (2) Go to your favorite medical journal and keyword search on lack, insurance, and adverse effects. This is reasonably good data on it, so there’s no reason for Frank not to include it if we want to use his $$$ approach.

    P.S.–I think there should be a tax credit for kicking puppies and tax on misused apostrophes.

  51. gst on November 3, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Timer, try to keep your comments to two paragraphs, max. Thanks.

  52. gst on November 3, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    My FAVORITE medical journal? Where to begin!?

  53. djinn on November 3, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    McCain is opposed to CHIP, however you spell it.

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/mccain.interview/

  54. gst on November 3, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    I’m in favor of CHiPs.

  55. Nate Oman on November 3, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    “I think there should be a tax credit for kicking puppies and tax on misused apostrophes.”

    I figured as much. I bet that you hate butterflies as well…

  56. djinn on November 3, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    #49–I like your equation there: it requires a “Serious death toll” between the McCain and the Obama plans for you to consider one over the other? Good to know. I now feel free to discount any comment you may have on abortion.

  57. Julie M. Smith on November 3, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    “Now, if you had a way of preventing unwanted pregnancies altogether, you could achieve the benefits you envision without the costs in 2 and 3. Everyone would agree that this would be worthwhile, including Obama.”

    Everyone except Palin, Bush and other supporters of abstinence-only education, that is . . .

    Frank, thanks for working through this with me. I think McCain’s hawkishness is likely to result in far more foreign deaths than Obama’s approach, and I would in fact value those as equal to American lives.

    The data I’ve seen suggests that firm conclusions re Obama AND McCain’s health care plans are sketchy at best since neither has given enough details to really work through it, but I think most analysts are saying that McCain would leave more people under/un-insured, esp. given the pre-existing condition issue. And let’s not limit this to just deaths, but also the costs of poor health.

    “I strongly doubt that the difference between McCain and Obama will amount to a serious death toll among the poor.”

    I agree. But I’m also with Timer re valuation of fetuses, so you don’t need a huge number of underinsured 4-year-olds dying from leukemia or bombbombbombIran to get numbers that are either closer together or favor Obama.

  58. Matt Evans on November 3, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    “As Obama loves to say, reasonable people who genuinely care about fetuses can come to different conclusions on the cost benefit analysis.”

    As Stephen A. Douglas loved to say, reasonable people who genuinely care about negroes can come to different conclusions on the cost benefit analysis.

  59. Geoff J on November 3, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Nate(#39) — I think there are thoughtful ways to reconcile the variations on “trickle down economics” and caring for the poor. I think that adhering to such theories are often in good faith based the notion that all ships will rise with the tide so the poor are better off as a result. I just can’t swallow those reasons myself. For one, I think that while such policies may make the tide rise overall they also increase the wealth disparity in our society rather than decrease it and our scriptures seem to be emphatically against that as I read them.

    I favor a modestly redistributive state and a legal regime that favors a dynamic market place precisely becaue I think that his is the combination of policies that is most likely to lead to dminished poverty in the long run.

    I do too. The question to be answered is what level of redistribution and regulation constitutes the optimal market place that will be most likely to lead to diminished poverty in the long run. In this election cycle I happen to believe that the plans offered by the Dems would be more likely to help us achieve that optimal modestly redistributive state and a legal regime.

    Mark(#41) — Please give up on the lame compulsion argument. We’ve gone over it too many times before. It is especially ridiculous to bring up the “compelling righteousness” argument in a thread where the subject is creating laws to compel pregnant women to carry pregnancies to full term whether they want to or not. As people have pointed out in comments #7 and #8 we create laws to persuade right behavior all the time so please give it a rest already.

  60. Steve Evans on November 3, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    As Stephen Douglas Evans loves to say, reasonable people who genuinely care about anything probably aren’t participating on this thread.

  61. Mark Brown on November 3, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    When we talk about presidential elections, the power to appoint SC judges often appears to be the issue that drives our vote. I’m interested to know what the lawyers around here expect of Chief Justice Roberts. In his confirmation hearing, he stated that Roe was the settled law of the land. Do we think he meant what he said, or do we think he was he just being coy, and as soon as another conservative justice is appointed, he will move aggressively to overturn Roe?

  62. djinn on November 3, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    He was obviously being coy by answering the question in such a way that he can “move aggressively to overturn Roe” without his lying during his confirmation hearing.

  63. gst on November 3, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    I can’t vote for Obama because he opposes gay marriage. Or is he being coy about that? Pls let me know before Tuesday.

  64. Tim J. on November 3, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    He opposes gay marriage while at the same time opposing Prop 8:

    “I’ve stated my opposition to this. I think it’s unnecessary,” Obama told MTV. “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage. But when you start playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that’s not what America’s about.”

  65. Frank McIntyre on November 3, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Timer,

    The goal is not to convince a pro-choicer. The point was to put the numbers in the kind of economic terms that Phouchg felt were more important. If you value a fetus as being worth a hundredth of a life, then your math is absolutely correct. I think a nine week old fetus is worth more than roughly $20,000. If you offered a proposal to save aborted babies’ lives at half a million dollars a pop, I’d be honestly interested. If it was 3 million dollars a pop I would probably start to wonder what other lives we could save for cheaper. Is it your belief that the median voter would not be willing to pay more than $20,000 in public money?

    “If you were leaving a burning building and for some reason (construct your own scenario) you could save either 100 one-gram fetuses or one eight-year-old girl, which would you save?”

    I can’t think burning building scenarios are a useful way to construct value of life estimates. It doesn’t seem to me that people make their best decisions when they are about to be set on fire. You are welcome to differ.

    2 — That research is actually getting less convincing every year. But I was ignoring value to society and concentrating on value to the fetus. If you think aborted babies are a net loss to society then I guess you should factor that in.
    3 — certainly there is. If we ran a market we could determine what that was…

  66. Frank McIntyre on November 3, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    djinn,

    you may want to try reading my comment again. I am talking about the kind of death toll that would counterbalance the abortion death toll.

  67. Mark Brown on November 3, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    gst,

    I really did mean it as a serious question, although I realize that might be my ignorance showing.

    My assumption was that a conservative justice would have a healthier respect for precedence than one who was not so conservative. So when he said that he considered Roe to be settled law, I wondered what he meant by it, and I wanted to see what you guys who know more about it than I think.

  68. Frank McIntyre on November 3, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Julie,

    You are absolutely right that we should consider poor health.

    As for Timer’s numbers, I guess I would be surprised if the Church cared so much about abortion (in terms of Church discipline and pre-baptismal interviews) if a fetus was really that low on the relative value scale.

  69. DavidH on November 3, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    “I will never understand why the party (and the candidate) so eager to protect the poor, the elderly, and the otherwise vulnerable supports such vicious policies re the unborn.”

    Kathryn, I agree. And, I think, over time, the party will come around on the abortion issue.

    Nate, I have not read all your political posts from the last few days. Are you supporting McCain-Palin? And are you doing so because you believe their economic policies are better than Obama-Biden’s?

    It is no secret that I am supporting Obama, but that I disagree with him about abortion.

  70. Mark D. on November 3, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Geoff J,

    “Compulsion” is the difference between politics and religion. That distinction ranks slightly higher than “lame” in my book.

  71. SwimRun on November 3, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Barack Obama has made his position very clear; he opposes abortion, but just not on LEGAL grounds. He choses to oppose abortion on moral, ethical, social, and religious grounds.

    This is tantamount to a free will argument. The religious argument goes, why would God give mankind the power to chose unless that choice is an important one. By that argument Christians must choose to have Jesus in their life. Likewise, citizens should have the power to choose life for the right reasons, but they need to be free to make that choice for moral, ethical, social, and religious reasons.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/convictions/archive/2008/03/23/endorsing-obama.aspx

  72. Taylor Marshall on November 3, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    People need to ask themselves whether it’s okay to be a one-issue voter when it comes to abortion.

    Personally, I am a one issue voter when it comes to abortion. If we can’t respect the the right to life, then no right will be respected.

    We need to honestly examine the foundations of human rights. The abortion issue falls there.

    This is a pretty good article on “abortion and one issue voting”

    http://www.christianandamerican.com/is-it-okay-to-be-a-one-issue-voter-when-it-comes-to-abortion.html

  73. Nate Oman on November 3, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Geoff: I don’t endorse “trickle down economics” if by that you mean the notion that a public policy that is aimed at letting the rich get more money will ultimately benefit the poor. Rather, my stance would be closer to the notion that the poor are best served when their real incomes rise as a result of falling prices and when it is possible for them and others to create businesses that provide them with long-term economic self-sufficiency. “Trickle down” is bit of political rhetoric, which I doubt captures anyone’s real beliefs and certainly doesn’t capture mine.

    I tend to worry about poverty before I worry about inequality. There is obviously a connection here, but to put in the starkest terms I think that an unequal society with lots of social mobility and low levels of poverty is much to be preferred to a society with low levels of inequality but more poverty and less social mobility. It seems to me that the biggest problems with massive inquality have to do with public choice pathologies, whereby the wealthy capture government policy and extract benefits from the state that impose costs on others. Also in extremely unequal societies those at the bottom don’t have the resources to better their condition, although this is in many ways a problem of poverty rather than inequality. Hence, I favor redistribution for things like education, basic forms of health care, and basic subsistence, in addition to more generous support for those who are unlikely to ever be able to care for themselves, such as the mentally disabled.

    Frankly, on the issue of market regulation — as opposed to transfer payments — much of what I have heard from the Democratic side gives me serious cause for concern. For example, the notion of a windfall profits tax on oil strikes me as a bit of remarkably obtuse and short sighted populist grandstanding. The result will be either a rise in fuel prices or government price controls, unless one subscribes to the notion that the demand for oil is so elastic that oil companies cannot pass the cost of the tax along to consumers. This isn’t trickle down economics. This is basic price theory.

  74. Larry Ogan on November 3, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    There is no such animal as Pro Abortion. Pro Choice is the correct title. No one believes abortion is a good option even though it may at time be a necessary one. The statement I heard Obama make about abortion was pretty close to the Churches stance on abortion as stated on mormon.com. It follows:

    In 1973, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement regarding abortion, which is still applicable today:

    “The Church opposes abortion and counsels its members not to submit to or perform an abortion except in the rare cases where, in the opinion of competent medical counsel, the life or good health of the mother is seriously endangered or where the pregnancy was caused by rape and produces serious emotional trauma in the mother. Even then it should be done only after counseling with the local presiding priesthood authority and after receiving divine confirmation through prayer.”

    Obama opposed the Partial Birth Act because it didn’t allow for the health and safety of the mother. (Please read the Church statement again.) If I recall correctly he also stated that abortion should be rare and a last resort. For a group of people who prize their agency (choice), some of you are quick to take away that God given right of other folks.

  75. Geoff J on November 3, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Nate: Hence, I favor redistribution for things like education, basic forms of health care, and basic subsistence, in addition to more generous support for those who are unlikely to ever be able to care for themselves, such as the mentally disabled.

    It sounds like you and I favor largely the same things then. The question is which president will better and more effectively get us to that proper balance between not enough redistribution and too much in the next term. I suspect the younger one will so I voted accordingly. We shall see though.

    BTW – I agree with you that there has been some grandstanding going on in the rhetoric — that is to be expected in an election season. My guess is that whoever wins the presidential election will be largely a centrist in practice.

  76. Timer on November 3, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    “As for Timer’s numbers, I guess I would be surprised if the Church cared so much about abortion (in terms of Church discipline and pre-baptismal interviews) if a fetus was really that low on the relative value scale.”

    I actually think that if X has one hundredth the value of a human life, then X is extremely important to the church. Even if the valuation I suggested is correct, it would be reasonable for the church to care more about this issue than other issues of procreative deviancy (adultery, homosexuality, etc.). Recall, also, that the church does not forbid abortion in all circumstances.

    “I can’t think burning building scenarios are a useful way to construct value of life estimates. It doesn’t seem to me that people make their best decisions when they are about to be set on fire. You are welcome to differ.”

    You are making fun of me. But also deliberately missing the point. If the building was room temperature and you had a day to think about the tradeoff I suggested, you would still be facing a decision that would not be automatic for most people.

    “Is it your belief that the median voter would not be willing to pay more than $20,000 in public money?”

    I don’t know. The median voter is not very skilled at doing dollars-to-lives conversions. But if you look at treatments for preventing first trimester miscarriage versus treaments for preventing later childhood deaths, you will find that the median voter (and the medical community) cares a whole lot more about the latter, and our public funding priorities reflect this.

  77. Kathryn Lynard Soper on November 3, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Geoff J (#25): Of course the converse of that is “I will never understand why the party (and the candidate) so eager to protect the unborn supports such awful policies re the poor, the elderly, and the otherwise vulnerable.”

    Absolutely.

    It seems to me that based on our scriptures we Mormons ought to be basically conservatives on moral issues and basically liberal on economic issues.

    I guess it depends on how you’re defining terms. I think the economic policies of both parties are screwed. And the moral issues I care most about are split between the party platforms.

    James E. Faust said: “I am a conservative on fiscal and property matters and I am a liberal in terms of human values and human rights.” I don’t know how he navigated the party-line split, but by my calculations, I can’t be across-the-board liberal in terms of human rights by voting liberal. I can’t stomach the liberal policy of calling partial-birth abortion a defensible “freedom.” I also can’t stomach the conservative policy of overspending on defense at the expense of basic social services.

    “The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight
    of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

    By this standard, I’m in a no-win situation as a voter. I shouldn’t have to vote for the continued dismantling of half-grown fetuses in order to vote for strong public education, humane treatment of pows, decent health care for every American child, etc.

  78. JimD on November 3, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    I agree with #71. Some issues are important enough to be legitimate deal-killers.

    Obama apparently has no problem with taking a living, breathing, squirming baby, wrapping it in a paper towel, setting it on a counter and waiting for it to die.

    That doesn’t bug you?

    [Ed.--Careful. Obama's position is more nuanced than that. He doesn't personally favor that kind of thing. He just doesn't think there should be any laws that would make it harder for people to do that if they wanted, provided the living, breathing, squirming baby was born in a botched abortion or was induced for abortive purposes.]

  79. Mathew on November 3, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Burning building scenarios always make me think of the switch operator who let his son get run over by the train. Good thing for the passengers that switch operator wasn’t me.

    The national Democratic Party position on abortion does give one pause before pulling the lever in their favor. I wish they would rethink part of it, but since the Mormon vote isn’t important to them I don’t expect they are going to listen to me. On the other hand, I really dislike Adam Greenwood’s claim that to vote for Obama is to be culpably indifferent to the unborn. Really uncalled for I think.

  80. Nate Oman on November 3, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    “My guess is that whoever wins the presidential election will be largely a centrist in practice. ”

    I hope so, as I know that none of them share my set of political beliefs and instincts (which are — it goes without saying — correct.). The odd thing about Obama is that his core rhetoric is centrist, from which he will occasionally depart. On the other hand his voting record isn’t centrist at all, but is admittedly very thin. If he had ever stood up to a powerful Democratic lobby or faction other than the Clintons, I would be less worried. My fear, however, is that Waxman, Fank, Pelosio, et al are likely to produce some sort of regulatory monstrosity and Obama will lack the fortitude to say “No.”

    On the other hand, I think that on economic issues McCain is an ignorant and unstable grandstander, so it isn’t as though I’ve got a happy choice tomorrow one way or another.

  81. Aluwid on November 3, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Larry,

    “There is no such animal as Pro Abortion. Pro Choice is the correct title.”

    As long as you refer to the opposite side as “Pro-Life” then sure, granting both philosophies their chosen names is fair. But keep in mind that both titles are misleading since they are obscuring the issue. To illustrate, what does it mean to be “Pro-Choice”? Does it mean that you favor vouchers because you want everyone to be able to choose what school they go to? Does it mean you favor choosing whether you contribute to social welfare programs or not? Of course not. “Pro-Choice”, while it deliberately leaves the controversial issue out of it’s title, really means that you believe that women should have the right to choose to have an abortion. To put it another way, “Pro-Choice” = “Pro-Abortion-Rights”.

    (BTW, when it comes to disabilities I believe you actually will find people that are pro-abortion.)

  82. djinn on November 3, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    JimD, you simply have no idea what you are talking about. From Fackcheck.org:

    Barack Obama:

    “And I hate to say that people are lying, but here’s a situation where folks are lying. I have said repeatedly that I would have been completely in, fully in support of the federal bill that everybody supported – which was to say – that you should provide assistance to any infant that was born – even if it was as a consequence of an induced abortion. That was not the bill that was presented at the state level. What that bill also was doing was trying to undermine Roe vs. Wade.”

    Dislike him all you want for being prochoice, but this infanticide thing, pure malicious invention.

  83. don on November 3, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    If abortion were to become illegal, would it not then be impossible for Latter-day Saints to seek an abortion under those circumstances the church says are permissible? Would we then not be denied the right to act according to both our own consicience and the guidelines of our church? I don’t think Sarah Palin has such things as rape, incest, health of the mother in mind when she opposes abortion. Why are we talking in absolutes instead of bringing abortion laws closer in harmony to where the church is?

  84. mfranti on November 3, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    “Obama apparently has no problem with taking a living, breathing, squirming baby, wrapping it in a paper towel, setting it on a counter and waiting for it to die.”

    can you cite your source?

  85. Julie M. Smith on November 3, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    “I guess I would be surprised if the Church cared so much about abortion (in terms of Church discipline and pre-baptismal interviews) if a fetus was really that low on the relative value scale.”

    I don’t think that is a useful metric; the church can ask any number of questions and doesn’t have to pick (as we do here) from only two choices. Further, there is a probability issue: if we had a huge number of converts with the power to start foreign wars, the church might be asking them different interview questions!

    And a question for Adam: I’m wondering, given your extremely strong feelings on this issue, if you feel that you can in good conscience vote for McCain, who stated in the (third?) debate that he wouldn’t have a litmus test for the SC and has not otherwise been as strongly anti-choice as I imagine you would like.

  86. don on November 3, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    If abortion were to become illegal, would it then not be impossible for Latter-day Saints to seek abortion under those circumstances our church says it is permissible? Would it then not be impossible for us to act according to our conscience and the guidelines the church has given us? I don’t think Sarah Palin cares much abour rape, incest or the health of the mother, but Mormons should. Why are we talking in absolutes instead of seeking ways to bring abortion laws more in harmony with the teachings of the church?

  87. JimD on November 3, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Djinn, did you and I see the same factcheck article?

    Per http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/obama_and_infanticide.html, “But Obama’s claim is wrong. In fact, by the time the HHS Committee voted on the bill, it did contain language identical to the federal act.”

  88. Rick M on November 3, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Yes, Obama has a very liberal record on abortion, but (as many posts here have said in one way or another), you can be against abortions for convenience and still make the case that the decision should be up to a woman, her doctor, and her conscience. Still, for those of us that both really like Senator Obama and also wholeheartedly support the church\’s position on abortion, his so-called \”extreme\” stance on abortion is disconcerting, though he does have a record of supporting policies that help reduce abortions, like increasing access to affordable birth-control. How many abortions are the result of poor women making a poor choice, getting pregnant, then feeling abortion is the only way out of a hopeless situation? Those women probably don\’t have access to health care, including birth control. Anyway, I think the brethren\’s advice to LDS voters is wonderful: \”study the issues and candidates carefully and prayerfully, and then … vote for and actively support those you believe will most nearly carry out your ideas of good government.\” I think Obama represents a real opportunity for a transformational leader in the White House. He has the right disposition to be a great leader—thoughtful, even-keeled, intellectually curious–and on the abortion issue and others, he has demonstrated a sensitivity to opposing views. So on abortion even, he represents an opportunity for moving forward that the tired pro-life/pro-choice paradigm just doesn\’t offer (the either/or of that debate doesn\’t get us anywhere folks). How might we move forward? By advancing policies that will reduce the demand for abortion. I think both \”sides\” can agree to that, though I have seen no leadership by Republicans on this issue. They just want to ban the procedure, which ultimately does not solve the root problems at all.

  89. Aluwid on November 3, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Djinn,

    Obama falsely accused the National Right to Life Committee of lying when it is actually he that was lying (or misremembering if you want to be charitable). Here is a comparison of the federal bill and the state bill which Obama opposed. The state bill contained the same Roe v Wade protection as the federal bill:

    http://www.nrlc.org/ObamaBAIPA/2003AmendedILBAIPAandFedBAIPA.html

    Why are you quoting factcheck.org when they themselves clearly say that Obama was wrong on this count and that he did in fact vote against a bill which contained the necessary protections he claims were missing?

    “We find that, as the NRLC said in a recent statement, Obama voted in committee against the 2003 state bill that was nearly identical to the federal act he says he would have supported. Both contained identical clauses saying that nothing in the bills could be construed to affect legal rights of an unborn fetus, according to an undisputed summary written immediately after the committee’s 2003 mark-up session. ”

    http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/obama_and_infanticide.html

    Obama still owes the National Right To Life Committee an apology for calling them liars.

  90. JimD on November 3, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Mfranti, see the link to factcheck.org in my post 86 above for Obama’s position, and http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/09/abortions_do_sometimes_produce.html for additional background (note that Gianna Jessen, contrary to her own claims, would not have been affected by Obama’s vote since I believe she was something like 29 weeks).

  91. Aluwid on November 3, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    don,

    “If abortion were to become illegal, would it then not be impossible for Latter-day Saints to seek abortion under those circumstances our church says it is permissible?”

    That depends on the specifics. If abortion law is returned to the state level then each state could define whatever restrictions it’s citizens were comfortable with.

  92. mfranti on November 3, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    it was my understanding that late term abortions are illegal unless a doctor believes they are necessary to save the life/health of the mother.

    am i incorrect?

    if it’s illegal, except in medical instances, why is this an issue?

  93. the narrator on November 3, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    “That depends on the specifics. If abortion law is returned to the state level then each state could define whatever restrictions it’s citizens were comfortable with. ”

    Any abortion law with a rape-exception would be grossly impractical to implement. furthermore, it would undermine the basis for the pro-life argument – that the fetus has a necessary right to life. if a conception by rape can negate a necessary right to life, then it is not necessary, but rather arbitrary.

  94. JimD on November 3, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Mfranti, born-alive legislation does not apply exclusively to late-term abortions.

  95. gst on November 3, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    I have it on good authority that Adam Greenwood consorts with tourists. Unrepentant tourists.

  96. Tim J. on November 3, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    djinn,

    You poached one single quote out of that entire factcheck.org article. Keep reading…

    http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/obama_and_infanticide.html

    “We find that, as the NRLC said in a recent statement, Obama voted in committee against the 2003 state bill that was nearly identical to the federal act he says he would have supported.”

    Obama:

    “[A]dding a – an additional doctor who then has to be called in an emergency situation to come in and make these assessments is really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion. … I think it’s important to understand that this issue ultimately is about abortion and not live births.”

    “Number one, whenever we define a previable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a – a child, a nine-month-old – child that was delivered to term. That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place. I mean, it – it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an antiabortion statute.”

  97. mfranti on November 3, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Julie, can you answer my questions? you are the only woman on this thread (i think) so i would like your input.

  98. Tim J. on November 3, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Obama said he would have supported the Illinois Born Alive bill had it been identical to the federal bill. The problem, is that the bill were virtually identical.

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/763/

  99. Kathryn Lynard Soper on November 3, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    mfranti, the laws vary from state to state, as do the definitions of “late-term” and “health of the mother.”

    My friend, 29 weeks pregnant with a baby with Down syndrome, was emotional during a prenatal visit. The OB offered her an abortion, which was legal because in that state “health of the mother” includes mental health, a term which can be stretched awfully thin.

  100. Larry Ogan on November 3, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    #80 you said “Pro-Choice”, while it deliberately leaves the controversial issue out of it’s title, really means that you believe that women should have the right to choose to have an abortion. To put it another way, “Pro-Choice” = “Pro-Abortion-Rights”

    Does your defination above then imply that “Pro-Life” means the women has no rights to choose?To put it another way, “Pro-Life” = ?”

  101. mfranti on November 3, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    “My friend, 29 weeks pregnant with a baby with Down syndrome, was emotional during a prenatal visit. The OB offered her an abortion, which was legal because in that state “health of the mother” includes mental health, a term which can be stretched awfully thin. ”

    are you suggesting that this is common practice?

  102. Aluwid on November 3, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Larry,

    Pro-Life = Anti-Abortion-Rights.

    BTW, I borrowed this terms from DKL:
    http://www.mormonmentality.org/2008/08/30/democratsabortion-republicansnot-so-much.htm#comment-90431

    My pet peeve is how often the media describes the two sides as “Pro-Choice” and “Anti-Abortion”. In the first place they are being unfair by giving only one side their chosen name, and besides, I thought *everyone* was anti-abortion?

  103. bbell on November 3, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    I have heard audio where BO while a state senator lays out his argument for voting against providing medical care for babies that survive abortions. Its a matter of public record. During the third debate BO clearly lied about that vote.

    http://thehill.com/campaign-2008/abortion-foes-target-obama-because-of-his-vote-record-on-illinois-legislation-2007-02-15.html

  104. Matt Evans on November 3, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    mfranti, if you’re asking for an answer to your question in 92, about late term abortions, the problem is that the doctor making the decision is usually the abortionist himself, and he really would like her to give him $2600 for a late term abortion, and she probably does have periodic headaches. Dr. Tiller, infamous for killing lots of babies because they have Down syndrome, will kill babies at any age if he or his staff determines it is harming the mother’s physical or mental health. He injects the baby with potassium chloride (the agent used in lethal injections for death row inmates) while it’s still in the womb, and calls it “medication” (“an injection of a medication is made into the fetus to assure that it will be stillborn”).

    People who are happy knowing that full-term babies are injected with potassium chloride solely because they have Down syndrome, or becuse Dr. Tiller realizes he’d be richer if he decides the baby causes its mother headaches, Obama’s their man. No obstacles, no oversight, no reviews, no parental notification.

    I know, I know, Obama is personally opposed to abortion, just like Stephen A. Douglas was personally opposed to slavery. Don’t like slavery? Don’t own one.

  105. Kathryn Lynard Soper on November 3, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Don, the extremes detailed in Adam’s post are the extremes advocated by Obama. Such as:

    Under the Intact D&X method, the largest part of the fetus (the head) is reduced in diameter to allow vaginal passage. According to the American Medical Association, this procedure has four main elements.[8] First, the cervix is dilated. Second, the fetus is positioned for a footling breech. Third, the fetus is partially pulled out, starting with the feet, as far as the neck. Fourth, the brain and material inside the skull is evacuated, so that a dead but otherwise intact fetus can be delivered via the vagina.

    More details here, if you can bear to read them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intact_dilation_and_extraction

  106. mfranti on November 3, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    KLS, i don’t know how that posted twice.

    another question, since when was it ethical to terminate a fetus with down’s syndrome. I haven’t been pg for 15 years so i’m not in the loop.

  107. bbell on November 3, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    #102.

    The clear stats show that 90% of those who are diagnosed as carrying a Downs child will abort.

    So it is a common practice based on the 90% number.

  108. Julie M. Smith on November 3, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    mfranti, you’ll do better with the lawyers, even tho they are boys.

  109. Kathryn Lynard Soper on November 3, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    mfranti, I don’t know how common it is. I would guess that abortions at 29 weeks are relatively uncommon. But abortions between 20 and 28 weeks, using the procedure described above, are not.

    I offered the example to answer your question about why late-term abortion is a political issue, given the legal restrictions.

    Still wondering?

  110. Julie M. Smith on November 3, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    I really like Rick M.’s comment.

  111. Frank McIntyre on November 3, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    “If the building was room temperature and you had a day to think about the tradeoff I suggested, you would still be facing a decision that would not be automatic for most people.”

    Sure, but the problem is that choosing directly between lives in a burning building is never going to be “automatic for most people” — no matter the numbers you assign. The hypothetical is just a poorly designed one for eliciting useful information.

    Anyway, I think we adequately understand where we’re each coming from.

  112. Steve Evans on November 3, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Stephen Douglas Evans is also opposed to slavery in its contemporary forms.

  113. Julie M. Smith on November 3, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Frank, I’m wondering what your thoughts are (in general, not just re abortion) about assigning value. You came up with some “yea” and “nay” numbers above, but where did they come from? How did you determine them and how do I know that they are the right numbers for you?

  114. Matt Evans on November 3, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    “If the building was room temperature and you had a day to think about the tradeoff I suggested, you would still be facing a decision that would not be automatic for most people.”

    Even the most strident abolitionists fighting slavery didn’t want negroes to marry their daughters. They weren’t THAT equal. Seeing how long it’s taken for people to recognize the moral equality of minorities, it’s likely that recognizing the moral equality of the unborn will take a long time, too, even for pro-lifers — today’s abolitionists.

    Plus there’s the differences people assign even for people they say have full moral worth. In research, people will say that the elderly have full moral worth, but they still choose to rescue one 8-year-old before two 88-year-olds.

  115. JimD on November 3, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    mfranti, I don’t know how common it is. I would guess that abortions at 29 weeks are relatively uncommon. But abortions between 20 and 28 weeks, using the procedure described above, are not.

    KLS, isn’t that procedure basically a “partial birth abortion” and now illegal in the US?

  116. Kathryn Lynard Soper on November 3, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Rick:By advancing policies that will reduce the demand for abortion. I think both \”sides\” can agree to that, though I have seen no leadership by Republicans on this issue. They just want to ban the procedure, which ultimately does not solve the root problems at all.

    McCain’s a big advocate for adoption. But yes, Republicans have failed miserably in this regard.

    since when was it ethical to terminate a fetus with down’s syndrome

    Since Roe v Wade.

  117. mfranti on November 3, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    …the problem is that the doctor making the decision if an abortionist, and he really would like her to give him $2600 for a late term abortion, and she probably does have periodic headaches”

    here’s where i’m having logic problems.

    most women, i would think, would go to their obgyn if they were having health issues, not an abortionist (i don’t even know where i could find one-in the yellow pages under A?) if it’s a serious medical emergency, she’s not looking up abortionists phone numbers, she’s heading to the ER.

    so i keep getting hung up on the “baby killing” scenario because most women having a LTA are/were happy moms to be who happen to have had a medical emergency and went to their doctor for care or to the ER for treatment.

    i’m not saying that there aren’t greedy doctors or mom’s to be that decide at 28 weeks that they don’t want to be a mom–i just think that it’s more rare or not a common occurrence.

    so why are some getting hung up on the extreme cases and not focusing on the real life scenarios? abortion is ugly-we all agree but i don’t understand why you are demonizing obama for trying to keep it safe and legal.

  118. Matt Evans on November 3, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    It has NEVER been ethical to terminate a fetus because it has Down syndrome. Unfortunately it’s been legal and common in the United States since 1973.

  119. JimD on November 3, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    so why are some getting hung up on the extreme cases and not focusing on the real life scenarios? abortion is ugly-we all agree but i don’t understand why you are demonizing obama for trying to keep it safe and legal.

    If it were only about medically necessary, late-term abortions, I might agree with you.

    But it isn’t. Obama’s record goes far, far beyond that.

  120. Kathryn Lynard Soper on November 3, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Matt, thanks for the correction.

    JimD, seems the BCC thread precludes any further discussion of your question (#114), yes?

    mfranti, emergency late-term abortions (i.e. the mother’s health is in serious jeopardy) are not what’s being debated here.

    most women having a LTA are/were happy moms to be who happen to have had a medical emergency and went to their doctor for care or to the ER for treatment

    I only wish that were true.

    From Wiki:

    In 1987, the Alan Guttmacher Institute collected questionnaires from 1,900 women in the United States who came to clinics to have abortions. Of the 1,900 questioned, 420 had been pregnant for 16 or more weeks. These 420 women were asked to choose among a list of reasons why they had not obtained the abortions earlier in their pregnancies. The results were as follows:[3]

    71% Woman didn’t recognize she was pregnant or misjudged gestation
    48% Woman found it hard to make arrangements for abortion
    33% Woman was afraid to tell her partner or parents
    24% Woman took time to decide to have an abortion
    8% Woman waited for her relationship to change
    8% Someone pressured woman not to have abortion
    6% Something changed after woman became pregnant
    6% Woman didn’t know timing is important
    5% Woman didn’t know she could get an abortion
    2% A fetal problem was diagnosed late in pregnancy
    11% Other

  121. Larry Ogan on November 3, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Aluwid

    No kidding this is to wierd. I have the same pet peeve as you (see #101) accept it is the exact opposite of your pet peeve. My perseption is that the media always says Pro-Abortion vs Pro- Life. Thanks for the insight.

  122. Timer on November 3, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    “Sure, but the problem is that choosing directly between lives in a burning building is never going to be “automatic for most people” — no matter the numbers you assign. The hypothetical is just a poorly designed one for eliciting useful information.”

    Frank, do you have an alternative hypothetical that you think would be better at helping people figure out the relative values they assign to protecting different kinds of life?

    The advantage of the burning building hypothetical is that it is SO much simpler than the situations one encounters in real life (where outcomes are uncertain, personal choice rights and privacy are issues, religious edicts are involved,different family members and different doctors have different opinions, public health experts see twenty different side effects, agency and right to decide are issues, sociologists and criminologists and economists weigh in with other factors, etc.)

    If we can’t compare A to B in the simplest imaginable hypothetical, then real life is pretty much hopeless, no? You proposed equating, in some sense, the value of saving five fetuses to the value of saving one newborn. Can you give a hypothetical that would help me better visualize the trade off and decide whether I agree with your figures?

    Matt, the discussion concerns the relative value, from a public health/economic perspective, not “moral worth.” Obviously, if you can save an 8-year-old, that is a higher public health priority than saving an 88-year-old.

  123. JimD on November 3, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    JimD, seems the BCC thread precludes any further discussion of your question (#114), yes?

    Indeed.

  124. Matt Evans on November 3, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    It’s necessary to look to moral worth because people don’t, in fact, treat people equally even though our stated public policy position is that people are morally equal. In burning building hypotheticals like the one you proposed, people value white babies over black babies even if they answer that all races are equal. We use that research descriptively — to show what people believe — and not prescriptively, to determine what our policies should be. We don’t determine that because the average American values white babies more than black babies our policies should reflect that societal average. Our policies frequently do mirror this societal average, but it should be the goal of public policy makers to redress the disparity, not implement it.

    The reason people wouldn’t rescue embryos over an 8-year-old is that the lives of the embryos are threatened by much more than the fire. The 8-year-old will continue her natural life if she’s saved from the fire, but the future of 100 embryos rescued from a science lab is…?

  125. Steve Evans on November 3, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Matt, that’s a great perspective.

    (I’m serious)

  126. Utahn in CT on November 3, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Larry (101) writes: “Pro-Life = Anti-Abortion-Rights.” Those of you who agree with this, let me ask you: if my fifteen-year-old daughter is sexually assaulted and becomes pregnant, is she obliged to bear this baby, according to your calculus? I’m definitely anti-abortion, but I’m not an absolutist about it. What I don’t understand is why someone can’t oppose abortion while also being pro-choice.

  127. Frank McIntyre on November 3, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    Timer,

    Well, the 2-4 million dollar figure comes out of behavioral research on how much people value their own lives in making risky decisions — like the premium for being in high risk occupations. There are some obvious flaws with it, but it tends to be a useful benchmark. We have nothing equivalent for a fetus. A starting point would be how much people are willing to spend to save an endangered pregnancy. But even there you are asking how much people value another life, not their own, and so you are probably going to sharply underestimate the number that a fetus would pay out of its lifetime income in order to have a lifetime. Retrospectively, the thought experiment would be– how much would you pay to not have been aborted? I would guess the answer would be “quite a bit” for most people. Is that the right way to think about it? I don’t know, but it is probably a more useful benchmark than hypothetical burning buildings. That asks people to put themselves in a situation vastly removed from anything they have any experience with– whereas people do have experience with paying money or giving up money to affect their safety. Thus I prefer to go off things more closely tied to choices people actually make.

    Julie,

    This is all pretty rough going, but I think there are other options for saving more lives if the price tag is three million. At half a million, less so. Of course, public policy being what it is you can always point to stupid current policies that spend way too much on saving some lives and way too little on saving others. AIDS research spending vs. Malaria spending comes to mind. Which makes the whole thought experiment hard to work out.

  128. Russell Arben Fox on November 3, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Rick M. (#87)

    Yes, Obama has a very liberal record on abortion, but (as many posts here have said in one way or another), you can be against abortions for convenience and still make the case that the decision should be up to a woman, her doctor, and her conscience. Still, for those of us that both really like Senator Obama and also wholeheartedly support the church’s position on abortion, his so-called ”extreme” stance on abortion is disconcerting, though he does have a record of supporting policies that help reduce abortions, like increasing access to affordable birth-control. How many abortions are the result of poor women making a poor choice, getting pregnant, then feeling abortion is the only way out of a hopeless situation?…So on abortion even, [Obama] represents an opportunity for moving forward that the tired pro-life/pro-choice paradigm just doesn’t offer (the either/or of that debate doesn’t get us anywhere folks). How might we move forward? By advancing policies that will reduce the demand for abortion. I think both ”sides” can agree to that, though I have seen no leadership by Republicans on this issue. They just want to ban the procedure, which ultimately does not solve the root problems at all.

    I wish I could be as confident as you in supporting Obama, and I say this as someone who not only will be voting for him tomorrow, but as someone who thinks there is a lot of wisdom to what you say about his potential to lead America in the direction of a practical, common ground approaches to combating abortion. But I remain conflicted, because I strongly suspect that the counsel we have received from our church leaders does not allow for this conclusion. Not that I imagine all general authorities think alike when it comes to voting for president, or that they all intend their statements on abortion to be taken as literal voting guides; and moreover, even if such were the case, it wouldn’t necessarily command my vote. But voting for sucha clearly pro-choice candidate, and trying to convince myself on basis of his random comments that there is a real alternative there, does trouble me–a whole lot more than I expected it to, now that it comes down to it.

    More here, if you’re interested.

  129. Mark D. on November 4, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Practical, common ground approaches to combating abortion?

    How about practical, common ground approaches to combating infanticide? Obama has a public record of support for killing infants who survive abortions. That places him somewhere to the left of Chairman Mao. “Righteous wind” indeed.

  130. Timer on November 4, 2008 at 12:22 am

    “Retrospectively, the thought experiment would be– how much would you pay to not have been aborted?”

    Wow. I have to imagine the universe without my having been born and figure out how much worse that would be for me (whatever that means…) Despite having seen “It’s a Wonderful Life”, most of us do not much experience imagining ourselves not having been born. Retrospectively, I guess I’d pay a lot to make sure my parents had intercourse on the night I was conceived, but, generally speaking, I don’t think that preventing a night of intercourse is equivalent to taking a full-grown life, although my only experience thinking about this comes from having seen “Back to the Future”…

    Look, I was trying to measure the way people actually think and feel about the relative valuations, for public health purposes. That’s why I was trying to compare apples to apples (one-gram-fetus stranger to an eight-year-old stranger, or a one-gram-fetus daughter to an eight-year-old daughter, or a one-gram-fetus son to a eight-cell-embryo son — lots of people have experience making life decisions on behalf of loved ones). And I was hoping that our resident economist could teach me something about that. Now it seems you are instead trying to do some utterly bizarre philosophical movie-plot gymnastics that can only lead to a one-one equivalence, which is simply not the way actual humans think and feel about the issue. That burning building is looking better and better… :)

  131. LiberalSlayer on November 4, 2008 at 12:51 am

    Abortion is just pre-birth infanticide.

  132. Frank McIntyre on November 4, 2008 at 1:23 am

    Timer,

    I wasn’t asking for you to evaluate societal loss. Just personal loss. How much of your lifetime net worth would you pay to be alive? There is very little sci-fi required for that. You say you’d pay alot, but then seem to reject the metric because it implies too high a value to a fetus. Well it sounds like you are working from conclusions backwards. That’s common, but it isn’t good practice.

    Here’s an easier one. How much would you pay to not die next year? Is that less sci-fi for you? We should expect that people would value a whole life at least as much as the last X years of it. So that would be a useful lower bound. We can actually make guesses on that judging from people’s _behavior_ in risky situations.

    Unfortunately, by the way, people are pretty bad at answering these questions. Which is why it would be nice to have some data on how they actually behave. Hence we look at data on how people act to preserve their own lives and how much money they spend to do so.

    Your burning building example is too difficult to answer for almost any comparison. The imprecision makes it comical. Since you are so fond of the burning building example, tell me how many fetuses it would take for you to rescue them over an eight year old girl. 100? 1000? 10000? 10? I doubt you’ll answer :)

    But the hypothetical is also pointless because the number we want is not how _I_ value those two lives, but how those two (or one hundred and one) people (or spirits) value their own lives (since societal welfare is an aggregation of individual welfare). You see, abortion is imposing an externality on the fetus, and that is the inefficiency we wish to correct. The 2-6 million number for people’s life evaluations is coming from people’s valuations of their own life based on their behavior, rather than asking people questions about rescuing a person vs. rescuing a briefcase full of money from a burning building — which is about how much other people _say_ they care about you.

    You suggest $20,000 as a value of a fetus not being aborted as a reasonable approximation. I think you are vastly underestimating the value of that unborn child. But I don’t expect to change your mind. Abortion just doesn’t seem to be a topic that lends itself to people changing their minds.

  133. Silus Grok on November 4, 2008 at 2:16 am

    @130: I think that would be foeticide.

    @131: The thought experiment doesn’t take into account the Mormon sentiment (doctrine or folk religion, you decide) that the spirit would simply be reassigned to another body — that man cannot ultimately thwart the will of God. Had Marilyn aborted Silus, then Peggy will have a chance to raise Zachary.

    All: interesting discussion… my own thoughts on abortion run along what President Clinton is supposed to have said on the matter (and I’m paraphrasing): abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.

  134. Silus Grok on November 4, 2008 at 2:18 am

    … addendum: and maybe Chantal aborted Philippe … so Silus was born to Marilyn.

    Who knows the resumé of the unborn?

  135. Mark D. on November 4, 2008 at 2:25 am

    No doubt that is how Joseph Smith is walking among us, even now…

  136. Timer on November 4, 2008 at 2:29 am

    I was just using your figures on dollars-to-already-born-life conversions. I haven’t decided whether I agree with your dollar numbers. That’s your domain. :)

    As for the life-to-life comparison, I actually think my answer would be in the neighborhood of 100. More than 10. Less than 1000. I’d view public policy the same way: all things being equal, I’d be roughly indifferent between a policy that would prevent 10,000 miscarriages and one that would prevent 100 childhood deaths — this would be about what I would use in trying to efficiently allocate NIH resources. Far more than ten times as many people die (as fetuses) of miscarriage than of malaria, but I consider the latter a greater public health problem. I’d pay more to prevent a miscarriage than to prevent a broken arm. But less than I would pay to prevent a violent rape. There are plenty of behavioral experiments and studies one could do to check whether other humans (policy makers, parents, etc.) share my valuations. But I have some anecdotal evidence that I’m not too far out of the mainstream.

    Can I derive my number from a set of incontrovertible axioms? Well, no. But I don’t think you can either. Here’s why your derivation is sketchy. I think there is a difference between value and potential value. If a fetus grows to maturity, its value will be greater to everyone (including its future self) than it is now. But when all you have is a bunch of cells — or just a boy and a girl and beautiful moon — well, you have potential life, potential value. And of course, the vast majority of potential value is never realized. More “possible worlds” are not realized—at least, we only get to witness one. Most possible existence never comes to exist. Most “might have beens” never are. But summing up all the excluded “might have beens” corresponding to every action is impossible and unproductive. (It reminds me of those crazy conundrums from philosophy class: “If you have the power to will an additional billion humans into existence and you don’t do it, are you worse than Hitler? Is God, therefore, worse than Hitler? What if, by willing a billion humans out of existence you could will an additional two billion into existence? Would you do that?”)

    Explaining precisely why death is bad (and precisely when the “bad” occurs) has been a puzzle for philosophers for a long time. Quantifying losses from death is also difficult. I’m not going to claim to have solved this fundamental problem.

    Religiously speaking, it’s even harder. It’s impossible to know how the extent to which any individual spirit will be better or worse off if a particular fetus dies. (Will the spirit go to another fetus? Or miss out on this life altogether? Will this be better or worse for the spirit in the long run?) Once all quantities are incalculable by mortals and potentially infinite, economic analysis becomes harder for most of us to do well. You can pray and ask God how to allocate funding between miscarriage prevention and malaria research, but if you don’t get an answer, you’ve got to think it through yourself.

    So why is it that humans view a the loss of an infant that existed as more tragic than the loss of an infant that might have existed but didn’t? Not easy to answer philosophically. But it’s very clear that we feel and behave that way, and that we don’t want people who don’t feel this way running our country. Whether a lost one-gram fetus should be viewed as an “infant that existed” or an “infant that might have existed” is hard to argue with economics alone, but it’s clear that most people treat it as somewhere in the middle.

    When I thought you were going to try to economically justify your five-to-one ratio, I was rather interested — I thought you might have a genuinely new idea for approaching a famous philosophical problem. But arguments for one-to-one are old hat, easy and usually silly. You just _declare_ that the value of the fetus (or a recently fertilized egg cell, or potentially fertilized egg cell, or potentially produced and subsequently potentially fertilized egg cell) is equal to the entire value of its potential future life to itself and all others and leave it at that. And with zero effort you have reached a conclusion that virtually nobody actually agrees with in practice.

  137. Ingres on November 4, 2008 at 3:47 am

    Obama’s smart, but he seems to be tied up by parts of the democratic constituency. He’s guilty of making populist concessions like opposing free trade agreements.

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