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The Crux: It is about Sex at Any Price

In an article discussing the fact that more people have been aborted in Obama’s term than have gotten jobs, I saw the following exchange:

  • Are you saying that an unborn infant deserves a right to control its own body? Also, are you saying that woman are inferior because they can bear children?

    • The zef can control its own body when it no longer needs the body of its host to survive. I am saying anti-choicers view women as inferior because they want them to have no control over their body and life and think all they should do is pop out babies. 

  • That is absurd and childish gibberish. You don’t have the right to murder the inconvenient people in your life because they burden you. If you don’t desire children and are unmarried don’t fornicate. You’ll be a better person in the long run and no one dies for your mistake.

    • The difference is the inconvenient people in my life aren’t living inside my body and I have a way to escape them if I want. The only way to escape the misery of an unwanted pregnancy is abortion or suicide. I personally think the first option is better.
      I will NEVER desire children and there is nothing wrong with having sex if you aren’t married.

This argument, that abortion is justifiable as ‘self-defense,’ is fairly typical.  Indeed, leading up to Roe vs Wade, it was actually argued that compelling a pregnant woman to carry a baby to term was actually slavery; it was said that the thirteenth amendment, which outlawed slavery, required that abortion be an option.

This is, of course, a variation of Judith Jarvis Thomson’s defense of abortion.

These types of scenarios are deliberate nonsense.  RufusChoate quite correctly describes them as ‘absurd and childish gibberish.’  In fact, if there is anything that seems to characterize the pro-choice perspective, it is its childish nature.  Anyone who has experience with children know that they will bend over backwards to justify and rationalize why they should be allowed to have their candy or toy.  If there is a competing interest involved, they are quite indifferent.  It is only as they get older that they realize the limits to such thinking.

For however many years in western society, sex is a toy.  No one wants to be told that they cannot play with their toy.  No one wants to be told that their toy might even be dangerous in certain contexts–like the child that wishes to play baseball in the living room does not like being told to take the baseball bat and ball into the field, where that toy is more appropriate–or, that they shouldn’t bash people in the head with the baseball bat.  In short, no one wants to be told that the best context for sexual behavior is in the context of a lifelong, monogamous commitment between one man and one woman.  They will play with their toy, and don’t let anyone stop them!

The fatal absurdity in the ‘self-defense’ argument is patently obvious to anyone who is not blinded by the pleasures of sex, in any circumstance, at any price.

For you see, we are not talking about someone who one day, minding his own business, wakes up the next only to discover that another person has been hooked up to him, and this person is now being used as life support for the other.  No, this is a situation where one day, a person engages in a behavior that the person absolutely knows may create that person who now needs life support.   The person would not have existed at all, if you had not had sex.  They would not need life support at all, if you had not had sex.  YOU BROUGHT THE PERSON INTO THE WORLD.  And now, finding that you are ‘life support’ for another living being–which you knew might be the direct consequence of your action–you have the temerity to insist you can also kill the person?

I don’t see any other way of understanding this mindset except that it is really the case that people really believe they have the right to play with a toy, even if it actually kills someone.  Let others die, that I might have sex.  Unbelievable.

I assume that if we return to the case of our children playing with a toy, if in the course of playing with that toy, a brand new child was the result, the parent wouldn’t come into the room and say, “LOOK at this mess!  I told you that if you played with that toy, you were going to make another person, and now LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE!”  But that is actually what is happening–“LOOK AT this mess!”  Alright, well, I guess that’s another person we’re going to have to kill.  Yes, yes, keep your toy.  Can you please be more careful next time?  Here, take this drug;  there, there, carry on with your toy.  And if you get a disease, don’t worry, we’ll give you another drug for that.  But by all means, do not even consider not playing with your toy.  There is nothing wrong with playing with your toys in any manner that you please.”

It should go without saying that the self-evident nature of this line of reasoning becomes cloudy in a case such as rape.  Be honest:  acknowledge that these are a small fraction of the abortions that occur.

In the spirit of this post, you may wish to read my short story, Better Than Sex, which may put an even finer point on this issue.  That story can perhaps be dedicated to my public health official friend, who earnestly seems to believe that no one can contain their urge to have sex, and therefore we must try to protect them from the consequences of their urges–not of course, that we must urge folks to control their urges;  one would not want to get between a child and his toy.  This same friend wishes that we could ban guns (except, of course, in the hands of the government, where we can be quite sure they will be handled appropriately), in part on the argument that a gun has one sole purpose–to hurt, maim, or kill another person.  Can you imagine how he would recoil in horror if it was not merely the case that a gun killed a person when fired, but, that in pulling the trigger, it also created a brand new person, and then killed that person?  I have the sneaking suspicion that his positions are bound up together in some related fashion;  on the one hand, he is opposed to the populace having handguns, which only kill existing people, but he does not wish to stand in the way of people having as much sex as they want, despite the persistent rumor that when you have sex, you make new people; but never fear, in that case, you can just kill them!

I’d be interested in seeing that bit of irony parsed out sometime.

Sitting down to write this post made me reflect again on that old argument that the pregnant woman, whilst deliberately engaging in the activity that caused them to become pregnant in the first place, thought that this constituted involuntary enslavement.  How could a whole mass of people not perceive the absurd wickedness of that line of thinking?  Someone creates the very person who enslaves them, and thus has the right to kill that newly created person?  How bizarre.  Why isn’t it recognized more widely just how bizarre that is?

I realized that I put my finger on it already when I said a person is ‘blinded’ by their desire to experience sex, as often as possible, at any price, including if it kills another person.  Such a person is not a slave because they now are carrying a brand new human being.  They were already a slave, but to their own passions.   Does this mean that, like my public health official friend, conclude that there is nothing that can be done to stop people from having sex, and should seek to mitigate the harm from wanton sexual behavior?  No, because his thinking is that the best we can do is free people from the enslavement that awaits the results of their behavior, while I would argue that what we ought to be doing is freeing people from being slaves to the behavior itself.

Unfortunately, all that secular society can bring itself to do is speak to the latter freeing;  the first freeing, the more profound freeing, which sends freedom rippling down the whole sequence of events, has distinctly religious underpinnings to them.

I reckon that is the answer for all of it.  Sometime not too many years back, the stuff that would really give people freedom was driven from the public square, and now widespread slavery has resulted.  Since our secular society refuses to set the slaves really free, the best that can be mustered is attempts to clean up the mess the slaves make.

What a crazy world.

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10 Responses to The Crux: It is about Sex at Any Price

  1. Hi Tony,

    “In an article discussing the fact that more people have been aborted in Obama’s term than have gotten jobs,….”

    Just to kick things off with an aside, that’s a pretty stupid article.  Well, the article itself isn’t stupid, the person being quoted is stupid.  Actually, I retract that statement – the article IS stupid for giving unwarranted exposure to the stupid remarks of a stupid person.  It is also journalistically negligent for not providing some sort of context, namely that the number of abortion performed in the US has been declining steadily since the 1980s, including during Obama’s presidency (according to the same source cited by the article).  Therefore there was a rather larger number of abortions per year under George W Bush which was accompanied by a net LOSS of jobs, resulting in a massively higher differential, so what is your stupid point again Gary Bauer?

    Not the sort of level of critical thinking that I would expect a man of your intelligence to endorse, even as an aside.

    Onto the meat of your post.  I couldn’t help thinking that at certain points you were accurately describing the sort of Second Amendment fetishism that in other contexts you practically embody.  You know, about how people selfishly just want to play with their toys, don’t want to be told that their toys might be dangerous, close their ears to any information about how their toys could hurt others, and will insist upon their right to play with their toys no matter what the cost?  I guess your Libertarianism comes in a poor second to your Puritanism in the case of sex.

    “I don’t see any other way of understanding this mindset except that it is really the case that people really believe they have the right to play with a toy, even if it actually kills someone.”

    Sex doesn’t kill people Tony.  People kill people.   Mkay?  🙂

    You decry the wanton irresponsibility of young people who have sex (only to subsequently discover that they are pregnant) as a stalwart defender of the kind of education that purposefully preserves the very ignorance about reproduction and contraception which makes that outcome extremely probable.  This common ideological association really doesn’t do much to dispel the notion that the primary driver of such efforts is puritanical, NOT life-saving.  If you were really interested in preventing abortions then I would expect you to use every evidence-based strategy available.  The fact that you condemn the most effective methods is suggestive of a different motivation.

    “That story can perhaps be dedicated to my public health official friend,….”

    Humbled….
    Honoured….
    Slightly annoyed by the very next sentence:

    “….who earnestly seems to believe that no one can contain their urge to have sex, and therefore we must try to protect them from the consequences of their urges–not of course, that we must urge folks to control their urges;  one would not want to get between a child and his toy.”

    Well, I can’t speak for everyone.  I certainly have been in the position once or twice of knowing that I COULD have sex if i wanted to, but then choosing not to, generally because I was in a relationship with someone other than the person who was offering the sex in question at the time.  Obviously, in a consensual context, sex is a choice which people are free to decline.  However, there are (if you wish to be exposed to “evidence”) some relevant statistics on the strength of the various influences on those choices.

    For example, we know that being the child of a teenage mother greatly increases the chance of growing up to be a teenage parent yourself.  It must be sheer coincidence that so many of that particular demographic group freely choose to have unprotected sex so early, right?  Or, to take another example, various studies have shown that being exposed to abstinence-only sex education and purity pledges only delays the average date of first sexual experience by a matter of months and makes it far more likely that sex will be unprotected.  Strange that teenage girls who get exactly the program you are advocating should be so much more likely to get pregnant at a young age.

    “Does this mean that, like my public health official friend, conclude that there is nothing that can be done to stop people from having sex, and should seek to mitigate the harm from wanton sexual behavior?”

    Just to be clear, as I thought I had been in the past, I am in favour of sex education and public health campaigns aimed at delaying the age of first intercourse, but also of making sure that teens are fully aware of the potential consequences of unsafe sex and of the available means of keeping themselves safe and healthy.  As a contrast to keeping them ignorant, misinformed and fearful, I think that’s a big improvement.

    “Sometime not too many years back, the stuff that would really give people freedom was driven from the public square, and now widespread slavery has resulted.”

    That certainly sounds compelling.  Were there any negative aspects of this amazing “stuff” of which you speak?

    http://www.salon.com/2014/06/04/an_irish_catholic_orphanage_hid_the_bodies_of_800_children/

    Hmm, that seems like something that you would already have written a scathing editorial about if it had occurred within a secular institution.  Probably would have been cited as yet more proof – as if more proof were needed, ha! – of the CULTURE OF DEATH that pervades the liberal atheist humanist society that misguidedly rejects the manifest benefits of a Christian worldview [click link for further details of those benefits].

    I begin to think that you are not 100% objective in your commentary.

  2. “Not the sort of level of critical thinking that I would expect a man of your intelligence to endorse, even as an aside.”

    That’s a lot of rage to expend against a site that I merely included as a reference. I didn’t endorse it at all, even as an aside. Your stating that I did is probably a sign of things to come. 🙂

    “You decry the wanton irresponsibility of young people who have sex (only to subsequently discover that they are pregnant)”

    No, that’s not what I decried. I think you need to read it again.

    “as a stalwart defender of the kind of education that purposefully preserves the very ignorance about reproduction and contraception which makes that outcome extremely probable.”

    Even if I granted this, it is still besides the point that was being made. Interestingly, in this long screed, you NEVER address the point the whole post was oriented towards addressing. Why focus on the ‘aside’ and not the point of the post?

    “I certainly have been in the position once or twice of knowing that I COULD have sex if i wanted to, but then choosing not to, generally because I was in a relationship with someone other than the person who was offering the sex in question at the time.”

    More chit-chat about the responsibility of having sex or not having sex, and nothing about what to do when you HAVE sex and it brings a new life into the world.

    “For example, we know that being the child of a teenage mother greatly increases the chance of growing up to be a teenage parent yourself. It must be sheer coincidence that so many of that particular demographic group freely choose to have unprotected sex so early, right?”

    I would LOVE to dig into this silliness, but one of the chief reasons it is silly is because you still fail to address the point.

    “Hmm, that seems like something that you would already have written a scathing editorial about if it had occurred within a secular institution.”

    Hmmmm. A blue-flower sniffer did something dirty rotten. Well, you’re right. If we stack up 800 bodies over 35 years against the 50,000,000 (In American alone) that were aborted, that’s DEFINITELY in the same league, isn’t it?

    I skimmed that article and saw this funny line: “Don’t think it isn’t exactly what you get when you let religion run roughshod over human rights.”

    Leave it to secularists to put a small handful of bodies on one side of the scale, calling it ‘running roughshod over human rights’, and giving it at least as much, if not more, weight, then the millions and millions and millions of bodies that are on the other side. So much for caring about ‘human rights.’

    “I begin to think that you are not 100% objective in your commentary.”

    I note with interest that you never addressed the total intellectual and moral depravity of willfully engaging in an activity known to bring a new life into the world and then feeling perfectly justified in whacking that new life.

    All your jazz about abstinence and contraception is so irrelevant that the word ‘irrelevant’ doesn’t even do it justice. If my point is located on planet earth, your rebuttal is located on one of the Goldilock planets, in a galaxy far, far away.

    I predicted you would bring up the gun angle. Surely you would concede that your outrage would be increased a hundred-fold if the joy of playing with a gun had, as a direct consequence, the actual creation of the the person being shot? Well, becoming pregnant is a direct consequence of having sex–and many millions more people have been killed as a result of this then have been killed by gun outside of wartime.

    But I think that is a problem in your brain, if I may put it so bluntly. For you, ‘millions‘ is a trifle. 800 is a great horror. A million are killed each year through abortion. There are perhaps just 30,000 gun deaths a year in the US, and half of those are suicides, where the determined person could have found some other way to carry out their act.

    1,000,000 versus 30,000.
    50,000,000 versus 800.

    Why does it surprise you that there are still so many people who find your viewpoint unpersuasive? One must have a sense of proportion and perspective, or else they won’t be taken seriously.

  3. While it is completely off topic, I wanted to return and speak to a couple of your points:

    “If you were really interested in preventing abortions then I would expect you to use every evidence-based strategy available. The fact that you condemn the most effective methods is suggestive of a different motivation.”

    “For example, we know that being the child of a teenage mother greatly increases the chance of growing up to be a teenage parent yourself. It must be sheer coincidence that so many of that particular demographic group freely choose to have unprotected sex so early, right? Or, to take another example, various studies”

    There are several serious problems with this line of thinking, and I would encourage you to be open minded enough to consider well what I am about to say.

    In the first place, you presume that I am constrained to think of the issue under the same terms and from the same framework. Your ‘framework’ is, at best, 100 years old, but more accurately only 30-40 years old. So, if you say, “If you really cared about preventing abortions, you’d look at every evidence-based view out there!” I might say, “Yes, quite. And how many abortions per year were there before it became legal?”

    Certainly far less than a million.

    My point here is not to advocate for the change of law, but to illustrate that your whole frame of reference makes certain presumptions, presumptions that it does not even occur to you to consider challenging. You would never support making abortion on demand illegal, therefore your entire mitigation strategy specifically excludes what would REALLY be an effective abortion counter-measure from the outset. Again, my point in saying this is not to here argue for making abortion illegal, but to illustrate that your very approach to the issue contains elements that I don’t merely disagree with, but also some that are just plain objectionable. Why should I approach the issue through YOUR paradigm?

    At any rate, I have no intention to do so, especially since I am convinced that it is your paradigm that is the chief cause of all these troubles in the first place.

    Case in point, let’s consider your statistic about teen parents with children that most likely grow up to be teen parents. I won’t dispute it. Throw in there also the fact that people who grow up in divorced households tend to also get divorces.

    From your comment, presumably this is BAD. But the obvious antidote to both of these things is shoring up the institution of marriage and making it clear that sexuality is best expressed within the marital framework. THIS, however, you are not willing to do. INSTEAD, you assume that they are just going to continue having sex willy-nilly, so you do everything in your power to mitigate the consequences of that activity, without addressing the values that led to having sex willy-nilly in the first place. Importantly–and this is the real kicker–all this talk to these teens about how to make sure they don’t get a baby or an STD from their sexual behavior directly CONTRIBUTES to the values that lead to having sex, willy-nilly. After all, what’s the harm? It feels great and the authorities don’t seem to care; its not like they’re going to get pregnant or an STD or anything!

    Do you know what we call someone who has perfectly protected sex 100 times? A parent.

    Oh, and they probably have several STDs by that point, too. That’s because no birth control method is 100% reliable and certainly many of the methods will protect against STDs.

    However, the person who does not have sex until they are married, and only has sex with the person that they are married with, will not have to worry about a STD. This person is also very unlikely to be a teen, either.

    Your whole paradigm is built off of the free-love, open sexuality, amoral approach such things that came during the 1960s. No-fault divorce came, which made it astonishingly easy to get divorced, and the institution of marriage, and the prevailing value that people should wait before marriage before having sex was undermined left and right, in the culture, and with much help from the government, up to and including the public health workers.

    You see, it is not enough to say, “Oh, well, teen parents have children that tend to grow up to be teen parents” and leave it at that. The curious person, interested in being ‘evidence-based,’ might ask, “Have there ALWAYS been the same number of teen parents in society as there are right now?”

    The answer to that is NO.

    There are far more teen parents today then there were prior to the 1960s.

    What changed?

    Wait, I know the answer! Christianity became the state religion and took over the school system and public health system and began enforcing its puritanical views throughout western civilization! Christianity today pervades every nook and cranny of our culture! Secular humanism has suffered 100% defeat, and no longer has a place in society! The Supreme Court has NOT ruled that religion should be kept out of public, out of schools, out of everything but a church’s 4 walls, au contraire! SCOTUS has allowed local school districts to require religious study each week, and most districts have availed themselves of this! It’s the CHRISTIANS and THEIR DASTARDLY values that have become the prevailing social norm…

    At the precise time when the number of abortions skyrocketed
    The precise time when STDs skyrocketed
    The precise time when divorce rates skyrocketed
    The precise time when unmarried teen pregnancies skyrocketed

    Yes, indeed. Let us consider this whole matter only from the viewpoint of the last 40-50 years when the CHRISTIANS ran the show, and ignore how the world looked before that, when the enlightened atheists did!

    As an aside, I was the firstborn of teen parents who eventually got divorced.

    I did not get married until my early twenties, did not have sex until I was married, and currently have no worries whatsoever about STDs. This, of course, is either A., a complete accident, having nothing to do with my ideology or B., the result of huge amounts of government expenditures to support the institution of marriage or C., the result of patient instruction by trained public health officials using the very best amoral ‘evidence-based’ studies as their guides…

    Or is there a D?

  4. Obviously DB would rant about the effectiveness of educating people about having sex and contraceptives, while ignoring that sex only in a monogamous marital relationship is hands down THE most effective way to avoid problems.

    It’s all about sex at any price.

  5. Of interest…

    “Birth Control propaganda is thus the entering wedge for the Eugenic educator. In answering the needs of these thousands upon thousands of submerged mothers, it is possible to use this interest as the foundation for education in prophylaxis, sexual hygiene, and infant welfare. The potential mother is to be shown that maternity need not be slavery but the most effective avenue toward self-development and self-realization. Upon this basis only may we improve the quality of the race.”

    Margaret Sanger, “The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda,” Oct 1921.

  6. SJ,

    “If we stack up 800 bodies over 35 years against the 50,000,000 (In American alone) that were aborted, that’s DEFINITELY in the same league, isn’t it?”

    I would have to give the same answer to that as you gave to me later in the same post – why should I approach the issue through YOUR paradigm?

    “I predicted you would bring up the gun angle. Surely you would concede that your outrage would be increased a hundred-fold if the joy of playing with a gun had, as a direct consequence, the actual creation of the the person being shot?”

    Are you suggesting that YOUR position on gun control would be significantly altered if this were the case?  I am truly interested to know.  I actually don’t think that I would make the concession you suggest.  Surely the killing of a person is the most morally consequential thing in this equation, regardless of whether or not the killer has first created the life that is taken?

    “So, if you say, “If you really cared about preventing abortions, you’d look at every evidence-based view out there!” I might say, “Yes, quite. And how many abortions per year were there before it became legal?”  Certainly far less than a million.”

    It’s a useful courtroom maxim they tell young lawyers – never ask a question that you don’t positively know the answer to.  Estimates of how many abortions were carried out per year in the US pre-Roe vs Wade are necessarily imprecise, because their illegality hampered their disclosure.  However, there are a variety of scholarly estimates for the 1950s and 1960s which range from 800,000 to 1.2 million per year.  These estimates often involve extrapolating from state-wide data, and so may not be 100% reliable.  What is pretty certain is that a) the number was not orders of magnitude lower than after legalisation, and b) the mortality and morbidity associated with these abortions, especially for Black and Latino women, was far higher pre-legalisation.  Is that evidence that the pro-life position is necessarily racist and eugenicist?  I don’t think so, but it certainly blows the naive criminalisation argument out of the water.

    “You would never support making abortion on demand illegal, therefore your entire mitigation strategy specifically excludes what would REALLY be an effective abortion counter-measure from the outset.”

    That is doubly inaccurate.  I think that abortion should be illegal under certain circumstances (namely after 24 weeks gestation and in the absence of unsurvivable pathologies – this is definitely NOT blanket approval of “on demand” abortion) and criminalisation is a strategy which only has a proven success rate in reducing the survival rate for women who seek and obtain abortions.  It is not an effective counter-measure to abortions, it merely imposes a capricious Russian Roulette form of the death penalty for women who try to get one.

    “Case in point, let’s consider your statistic about teen parents with children that most likely grow up to be teen parents. I won’t dispute it. Throw in there also the fact that people who grow up in divorced households tend to also get divorces.”

    Doesn’t that admission somewhat dilute the concept of free will?

    “Do you know what we call someone who has perfectly protected sex 100 times? A parent.”

    Well, since you advanced the example of your own life experience, perhaps I can reciprocate:

    I am the only child of a married couple who were in their 30s at the time of my birth, and who are still in a loving and committed relationship today.

    I didn’t get married until I was thirty, and had a good deal of safe pre-marital sex before I ever met my wife (definitely more than 100 times).  I have never had an STD, although I have been tested a few times because I think it’s a responsible thing to do.  I have no children and have never been the cause of anyone having an abortion.  Is this a) an anecdote which doesn’t prove anything, or… wait, yes, that’s exactly what it is.  🙂

    At least it offers the only exception that I am fully qualified to give to your assertion about the unreliability of safe sex.

    “However, the person who does not have sex until they are married, and only has sex with the person that they are married with, will not have to worry about a STD. This person is also very unlikely to be a teen, either.”

    I agree that the hypothetical person you are discussing will not have to worry about STDs, assuming that both they and their partner are faithful.  Just like the person without a gun in the house will not have to worry about it accidentally injuring or killing a member of their family.  Perhaps you would agree in that case that there are reasonable common sense precautions that one can take to minimise that risk, and that the presence of such an admitted risk should not interfere with individual liberties.  So what was your point again?

    “You see, it is not enough to say, “Oh, well, teen parents have children that tend to grow up to be teen parents” and leave it at that. The curious person, interested in being ‘evidence-based,’ might ask, “Have there ALWAYS been the same number of teen parents in society as there are right now?”  The answer to that is NO.”

    That’s right – there are a lot less now (see helpful courtroom maxim above).  The teen birth rate in the US peaked in 1955, according to Pew Research figures, and has been dropping pretty steadily since then to a current level that is less than a third of what it was back in the baby boomer years.  Given your frequent lament about the way that Christianity has been systematically driven out of society and public policy over the last half century, it would appear that less Christianity = fewer teen parents. 

    “There are far more teen parents today then there were prior to the 1960s.”

    I would appreciate a source for that assertion, because as far as I am aware it is radically incorrect.

    Wait, let’s check your theory a different way.  Religiosity is not uniform across the USA – if your “decline of Christianity leads to more teen pregnancy” thesis is correct then shouldn’t the more religious states have lower teen pregnancy rates than the godless secular elitist East Coast liberal cappuccino-drinking, hybrid-driving, big government-loving union *oops!* democrat states?  That ought to be easy to test.  Do you want to?

    Teen pregnancy rates are reliably higher, sometimes two or three times higher, in the Southern states than they are in the more secular north-east.  Why would that be?  Abortion and divorce rates are more mixed, in part because of the fact that in religious areas people may find it more difficult to obtain either when they really need one, so their use as an indicator of either good Christian sexual ethics or strong and loving marriages is dubious at best.  Pregnancies are pretty comprehensively reported on though, however they end.  

    Your theory would seem to predict the opposite of this trend.

    So I don’t know Tony, what is it to be?  According to the best data available, the teenage pregnancy rate in the US has declined steadily during a period when you claim that Christianity has been systematically marginalised and excluded from social influence.  It also remains significantly higher in more religious states than in secular ones.  What has changed in that time, and what is the main difference between the areas of high and low prevalence today?  Well, modesty forbids me from crediting the hard work of public health professionals unhindered by theocratic dumbasses with all of those positive changes.  Reductions in poverty and better education are almost certainly important factors (the more religious states tend to have poorer and less well-educated populations).  However, the one conclusion which simply doesn’t fit with the reality of the situation at all is your stated one.

    Is a rethink possible at this stage?

  7. “Are you suggesting that YOUR position on gun control would be significantly altered if this were the case? I am truly interested to know.”

    If the act of pulling the trigger brought into existence the very person killed by the act of the trigger, who would not have existed at all if the trigger were not pulled, why wouldn’t my position be significantly altered?

    This may be a flaw in my ‘paradigm,’ but I take it as self-evident that executing people so that I may have pleasure is morally reprehensible.

    “Surely the killing of a person is the most morally consequential thing in this equation, regardless of whether or not the killer has first created the life that is taken?”

    Like, if you could find a way to pull the trigger without creating the person you’re killing? A little fire-arm contraception, is that what you mean? 😉

    “Throw a condom over that barrel, man!”

    “It’s a useful courtroom maxim they tell young lawyers – never ask a question that you don’t positively know the answer to.”

    Sure. On the other hand, I have a good reason to think that the numbers were much lower than you imply, which is why I made the comment. A million per year prior to Roe vs Wade? Absurd.

    “That is doubly inaccurate.”

    Only if we accept your assertion that there were just as many abortions prior to legalization as there were after. Given how unsafe these ‘back alley’ abortions are always described, on your view, we should have seen literally piles of dead women wherever one looked. Surely, while it may be the case that illegal abortions were relatively easy to conceal, the bodies of all those women much less so.

    My research on this issue goes back to around 1850. It shows a high frequency of illegal abortions and a noticeable amount of fatalities, such that a campaign was begun by American doctors to make it illegal, which by and large they had succeeded by the end of the 19th century. Moreover, the passing of these laws had demonstrable effects.

    My chief source for understanding the ebb and flow of abortion rates during this time frame is Frederick Dyer’s “The Physicians’ Crusade Against Abortion.”

    “I think that abortion should be illegal under certain circumstances (namely after 24 weeks gestation and in the absence of unsurvivable pathologies – this is definitely NOT blanket approval of “on demand” abortion)”

    lol. So, its ‘abortion on demand’ up to 24 weeks, then. I stand corrected! lol

    “It is not an effective counter-measure to abortions, it merely imposes a capricious Russian Roulette form of the death penalty for women who try to get one.”

    Shall we then work to remove the harmful consequences of all illegal activity, on the view that we might render that activity ‘safer’?

    For example, I suppose we could legalize any and all drugs, right? The state can provide the clean needles to all takers, just like they hand out condoms to thirteen year-olds.

    I’m sure with just a little thought, you would be able to conceive of any number of things that you prefer to be illegal, despite the fact that legalizing those things would make it ‘safer’ for the ones engaged in that behavior. Shall we extend your principle to all of them, or is abortion the only one?

    “Doesn’t that admission somewhat dilute the concept of free will?”

    No.

    “(definitely more than 100 times).”

    So many things to say to that, but it will perhaps be best to wait until we are in person again.

    “I have no children and have never been the cause of anyone having an abortion.”

    That you know of. 😉

    The failure rates of birth control methods are well-known and available, and are produced by pro-abortion outfits. Your argument is with them.

    “So what was your point again?”

    Oh, I don’t know. A million plus abortions each year and millions more new STD cases each year, despite vast amounts of resources spent on trying to mitigate the consequences of sex-on-demand. You can try to weigh that against gun deaths, which in the case of accidental deaths in a home are (I’m winging it here) almost certainly well under 5,000 a year, even though there are millions of guns in American homes.

    I would submit that in our two scenarios (your experiences versus mine), given the known failure rates of birth control methods, you were the one that played Russian roulette, and there is every reason to think that millions more played and lost, whereas out of the millions that approached it with my perspective (assuming they stayed faithful and true to it, of course), how many ‘played and lost’? You can probably count them on one hand.

    I think the only way to measure this in our era of abortion on demand would be to look at the STD rates to test my assertion. What are the STD rates among individuals who have only had sex with their lifelong partner versus those who have had multiple sex partners? Whether it is ‘protected’ sex or ‘unprotected’ you know full well that the number is orders of magnitude higher than those who had sex with just one person.

    Incidentally, Dyer documents that Catholic women had far less illegal abortions than Protestant ones did. Point being, ideology really is important and does have tangible impacts. Your sole focus is on behavior and mitigating the effects of those behaviors, as if the underlying ideology is irrelevant.

    Not that I am proposing that the government get involved in manipulating ideology. I’d prefer the government get out of all of these matters–of course, keeping humans from being murdered is an exception I find reasonable.

    “The teen birth rate in the US peaked in 1955, according to Pew Research figures,”

    So you say, and so, maybe, they say. Link?

    “I would appreciate a source for that assertion, because as far as I am aware it is radically incorrect.”

    Well, we’re going to run into a problem here, because of course prior to a certain point, and it wasn’t too long ago, statistics like we are used to having these days are not available.

    I could compile a very nice, substantiated article to defend this assertion, derived from multiple sources. As I sit here, I can’t think of any place in my research where statistics were gathered on this specific issue in, say, 1880. I bet you couldn’t find anything like that either, and nor could the Pew. The contention would have to be shown through historical analysis.

    In fact, one of the things that the eugenicists complained about the most was the great lack of reliable data for them to rely for purposes of their social engineering efforts. Obtaining that data, or establishing the framework for the obtaining of that data, was one of their priorities. That said, from their remarks and from the remarks of many others (on all sides of the issue) it is possible to get a good general picture. One of the things that is clear (from books they published, letters to the editor, etc, a great deal of which I’ve actually read personally, rather than read about) is that unmarried teen pregnancies were not high on their list of concerns, the clear implication being that it was not a fixture of the culture, as it is today.

    For example, in the Dyer book a certain Dr. Storer asserts that in his medical practice, he finds abortions occur more among the married than the unmarried. http://www.abortionessay.com/files/storer.html#v (in this essay we also hear something of the Catholic versus protestant, angle)

    For my purposes here, it isn’t what he says about the unmarried so much as what he doesn’t say, that is of interest. If it was culturally the case that pregnant, unmarried teens represented such a large segment of the population, then we may expect him to respond to arguments commonly posed.

    While it would probably require that I write for you several books to convince you even slightly (unless, of course, I get lucky, and there is a Pew survey from 1910 I can consult, or what not), but I do not think you would have trouble confirming for yourself that at least lip service was paid to the idea of sexual activity being best suited for the marital framework. Also, if I may venture to give another reason for why culturally there would not be very many unmarried pregnant women was because, in fact, early marriages were much more common. In fact, in just a few moments I could gather up a great number of complaints by birth control advocates about this fact, since Malthus had specifically mentioned late marriage as one of the best available correctives to over-population.

    And most birth control advocates had population control firmly in mind.

    “if your “decline of Christianity leads to more teen pregnancy” thesis is correct then shouldn’t the more religious states have lower teen pregnancy rates than the godless secular elitist East Coast liberal cappuccino-drinking, hybrid-driving, big government-loving union *oops!* democrat states?”

    No, that doesn’t follow at all, for a great number of reasons, many of which have to do with the way you have it structured to begin with, along with a specious assessment about what would constitute a ‘religious’ state.

    This line of thought of yours bears that same slightly ‘off’ smell as another you’ve submitted, that religious people should have fewer diseases, should be wealthier, etc.

    Setting all that aside, I would be willing to subject the test to populations where we can more more reliably be certain we are talking about more than nominal Christians. Shall we test our mutual claims against a group of Christians such as the Amish?

    “So I don’t know Tony, what is it to be? According to the best data available, the teenage pregnancy rate in the US has declined”

    I’m sorry, where was this data presented?

    I will be especially interested to see if these rates incorporate the fact that a huge number of abortions are performed on women under the age of 20. If they get an abortion, they ain’t pregnant, and hence the pregnancy rates are lowered, no?

  8. I took the time to research your claims and I am provisionally scratching my last question. I found at least one CDC study that stated that the number of abortions were factored into the pregnancy rate. I tried to find a similar assertion in the Guttmacher reports that assert that the teen pregnancy rate has declined, but couldn’t. I don’t know if its reasonable to extend that outfit the benefit of the doubt or not, but I will.

    As for whether or not it has in fact declined or not, I’m going to assume that the data I looked at is what you looked at, which means that I need to narrow my request for substantiation from you.

    I found a site that gave 1955 as high on the teen birth rate, but not the pregnancy rate, which for our purposes I think is of most important. Interestingly, you mentioned the ‘birth rate’ and not the ‘pregnancy rate.’ The ‘birth rate’ by definition does not include the abortions: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/21/why-is-the-teen-birth-rate-falling/

    I thought that this link was particularly interesting for a variety of reasons.

    First of all, I have automatically been thinking in terms of unmarried teens, but I noticed that your statement talking about the 1955 ‘peak’ conflates both the married and the unmarried teens. But according to your own source:

    But the composition of teen mothers has changed drastically since then. Back in 1960, most teen mothers were married—an estimated 15% of births to mothers ages 15-19 were to unmarried teens. Today, it has flipped: 89% of births are to unmarried mothers in that age group.

    This supports a number of the statements I just made, such as the reference to early marriages being the norm for a long while and also the radical difference between ‘then and now.’

    It incidentally supports my contention that we’re not going to find good statistics prior to a particular point. It doesn’t say there isn’t any data prior to 1940, but I bet the quality and breadth of it drops significantly.

    And there is of course ample reason to doubt, from looking at these figures, that ‘contraception’ and ‘birth control’ really played a very big role in anything of importance. The ‘peak’ was an anomaly born out of the fall out of World War 2, the very familiar ‘baby boom.’ Just prior to this, in the 1940s, the birth rates were fairly compatible with what followed this demographic anomaly.

    At any rate, there is a HUGE difference in MARRIED teens having children as opposed to unmarried teens having children. The former have a real fighting chance while the latter are really in for it. What do you think has happened to cause this reversal?

  9. And while you are sitting their mulling all that over, let us keep in mind that other national trend:

    Nearly 20 million new cases of STDs a year.

    All hail the power of the condom!

    Young people represent 25 percent of the sexually experienced population in the United States, but account for nearly half of new STDs.

    http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats10/trends.htm

    Here perhaps is where the real credit for a lowering of the pregnancy rates: many STDs lead to infertility.

    http://www.cdc.gov/std/infertility/

    Maybe if we took the people rendered infertile because of an STD who would have conceived if only they didn’t have the STD and added them back into the pregnancy rate, you wouldn’t feel as triumphant. If half of the new STDs are to young people, and some 3,000,000 have chlamydia each year, we may suppose then that 1,500,000 of those are in this vaunted 15-19 age group. Now, if 15% of those have PID and are unable to conceive that is potentially 225,000 more pregnancies you can add to the mix.

    I’m about tapped out in researching stuff for the night, and I know I’ve left you with more than enough to chew on and spit back at me, so I don’t want to take any more time to try to nail down just how many of that 3,000,000 are women in that age group. If it was just half (which seems like a fair guesstimate) then it would be 1,500,000 and hence about 125,000 more pregnancies. Add that 125,000 to the 625,310 total pregnancies reported in 2010 here:

    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/USTPtrends10.pdf

    And your new total is 750,310.

    That figure is on par with all the other figures of the last decade. But there are other STDs out there, many of which lead to sterility. Maybe it isn’t contraception and sex education leading to the lower rates–but higher infertility rates among the young!

    I’m pretty sure that I’ve given you this link before, although perhaps it was Tim:

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/STD-Trends-508.pdf

    Before, I focused on the rates among homosexuals (iirc) but I remembered this line:

    Both young men and young women are heavily affected by STDs — but young women face the most serious long-term
    health consequences. It is estimated that undiagnosed STDs cause 24,000 women to become infertile each year.

    I don’t know why it focused on the women. But you get the idea.

    After all that, I tried to find birth, pregnancy, and abortion rates prior to 1940 (and the rise of secular humanism) but couldn’t. If you can, I’d be much obliged.

  10. “The most urgent eugenic policy at this time is to see that birth control is made equally available to all individuals in every class of society. This is a practical objective, generally approved of by public opinion today. [Until people become responsible for the number of children they have], no system of voluntary eugenics will be fully effective. Making contraception available to them will be difficult, but it is certainly not an impossible task, and is a most urgent step in implementing eugenic policy.” Frederick Osborne, “The Future of Human Heredity: An Introduction to Eugenics in Modern Society page 99. (1968)

    He gives an estimate of between 200,000 to 1,200,000 abortions per year, but it is based on a UN estimate that I cannot obtain for myself.

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