That which we call misogyny, by any other name... August 29, 2008 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Longtime Mefi lurker and non-FPPoster here, registering strong disgust at some of the comments in the Sarah Palin thread.

"44 years old and four kids aren't enough? ... I imagine wanting to have as many kids as possible has something to do with her religious beliefs." WTF do your imaginings have to do with anything? What about HER CHOICE, regardless of her motivations or your opinions? What of the possibility that this was an unplanned pregnancy and she determined to carry it to term because that's what her convictions demand, not to say a difficult outcome she was willing to face? You think it was, not just her choice, but her civic responsibility to abort a baby with Down Syndrome? That is beyond sick. And none of your damned business.

"Her decision to have a child in the first place put the child at risk before he/she was even born." Would you say that to the face of a parent of a child with DS? Set aside your political posturing and permit the woman the dignity to make a choice different from what you would have done.

I'm a former-conservative-turned-Obama-supporter who finds this kind of criticism despicable. Sarah Palin is NOT the best-qualified Republican for VP. Obama's not (in some similar respects) the best-qualified Democrat for President. It's a fascinating race, so can we talk about that, without resorting to the kind of irrelevant and insulting comments about a candidate that I'd expect to see on the Corner or from the Freepers?

Likewise the VPILF contributions. Good lord. I guess FLILF are next, about Michelle? Or has Mefi already covered this and I missed it?

On preview, looks like some of these have been deleted. Mods, here's one you may have missed.
posted by torticat to Etiquette/Policy at 12:27 PM (260 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Oh, come on. Her pro-life stance and religious views directly led to to have a child after the age at which it is scientifically deemed safe. That is politically relevant because it shows how strong her beliefs in are and where she lies on certain policy lines. If you can't see that, maybe you're not as ex-conservative as you thought.
posted by youcancallmeal at 12:32 PM on August 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


(I was waiting for some variety of this)
posted by Artw at 12:33 PM on August 29, 2008


yeah, some of these people make me feel icky. I just pretend they aren't so callous and ignorant in real life. it's easy to see why we don't have many political threads here.
posted by dawson at 12:34 PM on August 29, 2008


See that '!' underneath the comments?
posted by solipsophistocracy at 12:36 PM on August 29, 2008 [6 favorites]


I wouldn't be too hard on them. People needed an outlet for all of the hate that they repressed while orgasming in the Obama acceptance speech thread.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:38 PM on August 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hey alright! The Palin thread callout!
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:38 PM on August 29, 2008


Well, torticat, it's a two-edged sword. The McCain campaign is definitely hoping for a bump (though not, mind you, of the "terrorist-fist" variety) because of Palin's good looks and heartwarming choice of life. Vetting these things is tantamount to asking: "are these really the things that matter to us as we choose our next leader." They're fair game because the stakes are as high as can be imagined.

That said, there's no excuse for wallowing in another fuckabilityfest. So if you want to call individual members to account for behaving like drooling idiots, fire away. I'll load your cannon for you. If you want to enforce some sort of site-wide prior restraint as regards Palin's life story and qualifications for office, you'll find no support from me. Judging by the vapors swirling in that thread, though, I'm sure you'll find some allies. So please keep in mind: if we declare those topics taboo, what, really, have we gained? A community that no longer trusts itself to discuss sanctity of life issues with honesty and candor? An inability accurately to assess the political events of our day even as they play out before our eyes?

For me, the choice is no choice at all. Censure individual thuggishness when it arises. But trust the community to police itself.
posted by felix betachat at 12:40 PM on August 29, 2008 [7 favorites]


This is a pointless callout. You linked to two comments from the same person, and you linked to one of them twice. Flag the comments or register your disagreement in the thread.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:43 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I guess FLILF are next, about Michelle? Or has Mefi already covered this and I missed it?

Yeah, I think it was covered back when Kucinich was in the race.
posted by bondcliff at 12:47 PM on August 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Her pro-life stance and religious views directly led to to have a child after the age at which it is scientifically deemed safe.

such things will be corrected in the future liberafascist utopia, where every aspect of your life will be controlled what is scientifically deemed safe, ecologically deemed beneficial, and politically deemed correct. or you die. like the theistic breeding pig you are.
posted by quonsar at 12:50 PM on August 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


Thanks for bringing this up. Discussion never hurts, although some people pretend like it does for some reason.
posted by sondrialiac at 12:55 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Longtime Mefi lurker and non-FPPoster here, registering strong disgust at some of the comments in the Sarah Palin thread."

So go into that thread, and refute those arguments you disagree with.
posted by orthogonality at 12:56 PM on August 29, 2008 [15 favorites]


This is a pointless callout. You linked to two comments from the same person

Since when does that make a callout pointless? zardoz was the person I was calling out.

You're right about the last link though. That was a secondary point about vpilf and the link should have been this.
posted by torticat at 12:56 PM on August 29, 2008


or you die. like the theistic breeding pig you are.

Um... what?
posted by youcancallmeal at 12:58 PM on August 29, 2008


Her pro-life stance and religious views directly led to to have a child after the age at which it is scientifically deemed safe. That is politically relevant because it shows how strong her beliefs in are and where she lies on certain policy lines.

Leave this aside. She can have kids after 44 if she wants to, why on earth shouldn't she be allowed to? And for all that she wanted to have another kid, she could still have been pro-choice so it doesn't show anything.

Now, as it happens she's super-pro-life (or so my rushed last minute research shows), but we can perfectly well make that - her stated and demonstrated political views - the topic without criticizing her decisions about her own family.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:58 PM on August 29, 2008 [8 favorites]


Of course, the likelihood is that she was chosen partly because of those family decisions, and those family decisions are going to be used to browbeat or legislate other people's family decisions. And that's when we can step in to say "what a nice choice you made. how lucky it was that you were free to make that choice." etc. But without saying "you shouldn't have made that choice" or "old bags shouldn't have babies" or whatever other junk.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:01 PM on August 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


The comments are idiotic, but who cares.
posted by Falconetti at 1:01 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Except her decisions about her family are direct outcomes of her beliefs on pro-life / religious issues and only serve to show how strongly she holds said beliefs.
posted by youcancallmeal at 1:02 PM on August 29, 2008


Hey, the personal is political, and if zardoz finds large families to be an uneccessary ecological drain, I won't argue with him. Palin's husband is equally due for such criticisms, but he's not the person about whom we are talking.

The likelihood of a woman her age having a child with Trisomy 21 is around 20%. It does seem, to my way of thinking, a strange risk to take to get pregnant at that age in the first place, when there are already 4 children to love in your home, and so many more in need, kliving in poverty. I don't understand that drive. Perhaps someone will educate me.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:02 PM on August 29, 2008 [7 favorites]


Would you call this comment about how she played fast and loose with the safety of her unborn child, which unless I am TOTALLY mistaken was the one who we now know has Downs Syndrome, "misogynistic"? I call it one of the scariest things I have ever heard about a politician of either party.
posted by wendell at 1:03 PM on August 29, 2008


or you die. like the theistic breeding pig you are.

Um... what?


oh, ... heh ... did i say that out loud? stupid brain!
posted by quonsar at 1:03 PM on August 29, 2008


So go into that thread, and refute those arguments you disagree with
One really can't do that here, the reaction is pretty hateful, so much so that it's scary. I learned early on that dissent here will get you branded a lunatic and worse. There is almost no open-mindedness with some of the more vocal regulars. Their way or you are evil. I pretty much quit posting what I think long ago. You get branded as a troll, a mindless zealot or an intellectual lightweight. In the long run it's not worth it if you enjoy the site under more normal circumstances.
posted by dawson at 1:03 PM on August 29, 2008 [15 favorites]


But without saying "you shouldn't have made that choice" or "old bags shouldn't have babies" or whatever other junk.

But she has the right to say that women should not get abortions?
posted by youcancallmeal at 1:04 PM on August 29, 2008 [5 favorites]

She can have kids after 44 if she wants to, why on earth shouldn't she be allowed to?
No one is saying she shouldn't be allowed to. People are allowed to do lots of stupid things. I can criticise her decision to have kids after 44 if I want to; why on earth shouldn't I be allowed to?
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:06 PM on August 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


It's pretty simple. Sarah Palin made the choice to conceive and bring to term a child under conditions with known risk factors for the health of that child and herself. And while we can debate the wisdom of that decision, Ms. Palin made the choice.

Sarah Palin does not wish that to be a matter of choice for other women. 45 and knocked up? Destined to have a Down's Syndome child? Well, that's just your burden, isn't it?

That's what makes her decision relevant.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 1:10 PM on August 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


WTF do your imaginings have to do with anything? What about HER CHOICE, regardless of her motivations or your opinions?

Thus goes politics. Things that are commonly held to be a person's private choice are dissected by the public and other politicians: Obama's label ornamentation or lack thereof, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark's smoking (Laura Bush, too, IIRC), Maxime Bernier's having a girlfriend with past ties to biker gangs... even before his security leak scandal.

Jumping to the conclusion that this Palin person's religion or politics must have something to do with her 5th baby seems a bit much, though. People, even politicians, are more complex than that.
posted by CKmtl at 1:10 PM on August 29, 2008


I, too, thought the comments were disgusting -- and I love Obama and dislike Palin -- but I don't think a call-out like this is going to change much.
posted by Nattie at 1:11 PM on August 29, 2008


ORANGE JUICE FOR BREAKFAST!
posted by Artw at 1:11 PM on August 29, 2008


It was a gross thread, but I hadn't read any of the abortion back and forth at that point. Really though, how are you supposed to reply to crap like VPILF? I just left it alone, but a lot of the snarky asides struck me as icky.

That said, this callout could have maybe been a little less heavy-handed and maybe it would have gone better. I generally feel like starting off tossing around words like despicable and "beyond sick" is not a way to introduce people to your contrasting opinions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:13 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I guess FLILF are next, about Michelle?

Well, now that you mention it....
posted by chillmost at 1:16 PM on August 29, 2008


Bah. "... lapel ornamentation".
posted by CKmtl at 1:16 PM on August 29, 2008


One really can't do that here, the reaction is pretty hateful, so much so that it's scary. I learned early on that dissent here will get you branded a lunatic and worse. There is almost no open-mindedness with some of the more vocal regulars.

Oh boo-hoo Clarence. Buck up or find another sandbox to play in. MetaFilter thrives on vigorous debate. If you're not locking horns with someone from time to time then you're doing it wrong. When people cross the line, you walk away. If you can't walk away, then it's not the site that's the problem.
posted by felix betachat at 1:17 PM on August 29, 2008 [9 favorites]


starting off tossing around words like despicable and "beyond sick" is not a way to introduce people to your contrasting opinions

It's the way things are done in America these days (and a winning campaign strategy).
posted by wendell at 1:18 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Thanks for bringing this up. Discussion never hurts, although some people pretend like it does for some reason."

In regards to this post or the called-out comments?
posted by sloe at 1:21 PM on August 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think the best way to deal with all the button-touching is to assume good faith on the part of the other person. A charitable reading of the comments you linked to makes it possible that zardoz's criticisms were not that she did not abort the baby, but that she didn't use contraception beforehand. It's a different issue, and one that you might also disagree with him on, but I don't think you should assume that he meant she should have had an abortion.

This is a minefield, but we might as well get used to it. There's going to be a major airing out of gender and race issues this election.
posted by dosterm at 1:24 PM on August 29, 2008


Her pro-life stance and religious views directly led to to have a child after the age at which it is scientifically deemed safe.

I'm pro-abortion and an athiest, and will choose to have a child "after the age at which it is scientifically deemed safe." And for that matter, there is no age at which it is scientifically deemed safe -- it's simply that the risk goes up as you get older. This whole line of argument is pretty condescending to women who have to make tough choices about their bodies and what they want for their lives. If you can't see that, maybe you're not as liberal as you thought.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:24 PM on August 29, 2008 [29 favorites]


Those are some pretty hateful comments. My wife is expecting our second child, she's in the same age group. If someone addressed those comments to me in real life, I would punch them in the nose, hard.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:28 PM on August 29, 2008


As the uncle of an 8-year-old boy with Down Syndrome, I agree with this call-out, not only for the inherent, in my opinion, misogyny (it's *HER* fault her kid has Down Syndrome), but also the more subtle, unspoken hidden message therein that suggests this kid is forever doomed to a worthless, horrible life as a result of having this condition. Hint: It's entirely possible that Sarah Palin, just life my sister and brother-in-law, don't necessarily look at having a child with Down Syndrome as a tragedy.
posted by The Gooch at 1:29 PM on August 29, 2008 [24 favorites]


You know, my wife and I will probably be getting into a dodgy age range by the time we have a second, and we’ve already had the awesome fun of a Trisome 18 scare, and I still think her reproductive choices are a little weird.

I mean, they’re her choices, and they’re hers to make, but I;m still allowed tothink their a little weird, right? And since if McCain gets in he’ll most likely be making big changes to the choices that people get to make I think it’s very much an issue of discussion.
posted by Artw at 1:29 PM on August 29, 2008


"life"="like"
posted by The Gooch at 1:30 PM on August 29, 2008


I do agree that this is all in poor taste. Should clarify that.
posted by dosterm at 1:30 PM on August 29, 2008


Likewise the VPILF contributions. Good lord. I guess FLILF are next, about Michelle?

I dunno about that. But if Obama wins? Total PILF.

Also, I hate my brain - right after typing the above, I wondered if there was any Obama/McCain slash fic out there yet.
posted by jack_mo at 1:31 PM on August 29, 2008


Can we move this discussion back into the FPP? It's hard to masturbate while switching tabs.
posted by Eideteker at 1:33 PM on August 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


The Sarak Palin thread is appalling.
As onlyconnect wrote above, if you can't see that, maybe you're not as liberal as you thought.
posted by ruelle at 1:33 PM on August 29, 2008


"And for that matter, there is no age at which it is scientifically deemed safe -- it's simply that the risk goes up as you get older."

Or fly around the country after your water breaks.
posted by klangklangston at 1:34 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Gooch: "but also the more subtle, unspoken hidden message therein that suggests this kid is forever doomed to a worthless, horrible life as a result of having this condition."

Repeated for emphasis. The thing that disgusted me the most about those comments was the sort of invisible finger-pointing - "See? See what you did? You made a faulty human! Your fault!"
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:35 PM on August 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


I never said that she doesn't have a right to have had the child. I don't care if you're fifty have a kid. However, if you're running for VP on a Pro-life, Creationist, etc. platform, I do think that the issue is up for discussion. If she has a right to say that women should not have abortions, I have a right to say that I don't believe her choice to have a child was necessarily the right one. What's the quote? "I don't agree with your choice, but I'll defend your right to make it."? I don't think what she did was right, but it was her choice. She wants to take the option of women to make other choices away. That's fair how, exactly?
posted by youcancallmeal at 1:36 PM on August 29, 2008


It's generally negatove and covers a broad spectrum of taste. TBH that was going to be the case for anyone, and an odd pick like this certainly going to bring in more comments. As for making a big deal out of the fact that she's a woman - well, isn't that why she was picked?
posted by Artw at 1:37 PM on August 29, 2008


The VPILF comment should stand on record. Maybe it should be sidebarred, even.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:37 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't believe that the VPILF comments being allowed to stand.

When's that CPoIP technology coming again?
posted by bonehead at 1:37 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Also, I hate my brain - right after typing the above, I wondered if there was any Obama/McCain slash fic out there yet."

"You know, for five-and-a-half years, I didn't know the comfort of a woman…"
posted by klangklangston at 1:37 PM on August 29, 2008 [8 favorites]


Look, I think people tend to get really negative and hateful when they're on the defensive. People are so, so sick of Bush and conservatism that they're going to be pretty aggressive towards those who want to prolong it. It's possible people might be saying these things from a place of pain and exasperation.

But still, you know, not cool.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:40 PM on August 29, 2008


The VPILF comment should stand on record. Maybe it should be sidebarred, even.

I can't believe that the VPILF comments being allowed to stand.


Welcome to my world. That thread is just

- really long
- fairly fast-moving [or was when I checked]
- getting flagged like crazy, even moreso after this callout.

The VPILF comments that I saw were way upthread and have been commented on there and here and are a little tough to extract so they're likely staying. If there's a newly started VPILF derail, there's a good chance that would go away. We really try to let most stuff stay in MeFi but this stuff tries my patience.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:41 PM on August 29, 2008


Really though, how are you supposed to reply to crap like VPILF?

Flag it, as solipsophistocracy told you almost immediately. Instead what you've done is give the thread and the asinine comments in it even more attention.
posted by tula at 1:43 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that most if not all of the VPILF comments in the thread were bemoaning the inevitable joke. And lo and behold, vpilf.com appears, and it's a site full of praise for for Palin, not ridicule. Out there in the rest of the world, there are people who believe "-ILF" is a great way of promoting a politician.

Would you call this comment about how she played fast and loose with the safety of her unborn child, which unless I am TOTALLY mistaken was the one who we now know has Downs Syndrome, "misogynistic"?


I almost didn't post that comment, since it plays into all sorts of misogyny about women's roles as baby vessels, unfit to lead because biology will get into the way, should take folic acid all the time, etc. I'm kind of hoping someone with more knowledge of medicine to fill in some detail on the story.

(Yes, it was the child with Downs Syndrome, but her actions after her water broke have nothing to do with the genetic abnormality.)
posted by hydrophonic at 1:43 PM on August 29, 2008


It's gonna be a long two months.
posted by rtha at 1:45 PM on August 29, 2008 [6 favorites]


I take exception to some of zardoz's linked comments, but being obnoxious isn't itself unpermissable, and I think that's a better characterization of where those are than anything that's beyond the pale as far as permissability. I agree that addressing the argument head-on is probably the best move, and some folks have been doing just that in thread. Having the side-discussion over here is fine too, of course.

The VPILF-related stuff is annoying too, and I'd nixed a couple of really braindead "lol she's hot"-level comments already this morning and killed a couple more just now coming back from lunch. But some of the VPILF stuff in the thread is acknowledging rhetoric that's going around the web/media right now more than it is promoting that as a Good Thing, and to some extent I think aspects of that are going to be part of the thread barring some really uncharacteristic moderator super-crackdown on any off-color remarks, something that I don't see as really justified here.

In a more meta context, it's striking to me how much weirder/noisier that thread is than it likely would have been if Palin had been on folks' minds as a/the probably VP pick. There's a sort of short-notice intesive research/vetting element to the thread, and to some of the discussions elsewhere being noted, that I think is a product of the situation and part of why it's been so big and so noisy all day.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:46 PM on August 29, 2008


God, I wish there was some flagging system in place.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:47 PM on August 29, 2008


It seems to me that most if not all of the VPILF comments in the thread were bemoaning the inevitable joke. And lo and behold, vpilf.com appears, and it's a site full of praise for for Palin, not ridicule.

It's a "funny joke" the same way that, I don't know, a watermellon farmers for Obama site would be "funny". Not everything means what it says. Bringing attention to it is shit and it's being done for shit reasons.

It's shit because it moves the goalposts for what's allowable in an already shit thread. It's shit because six months from now, when some goober is deciding if he should post that screamingly funny photoshops of Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin and the gas station hose, he'll think back and consider: "that VPILF site was OK, this is only a little worse."

The goobers need to have their noses whacked, otherwise they're never going to get housetrained, and their shit will be everywhere.
posted by bonehead at 1:55 PM on August 29, 2008


It's shit because six months from now, when some goober is deciding if he should post that screamingly funny photoshops of Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin and the gas station hose, he'll think back and consider: "that VPILF site was OK, this is only a little worse."

And that shit will get nixed double quick, because said goober will have failed pretty badly at quality-checking himself. We worry about this sort of slippery-slope/broken-windows stuff too, trust me, but we're hardly going to say "oh, man, you got us on that VPILF precedent" when someone shit the bed six months from now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:59 PM on August 29, 2008


Those goobers have a pretty good body count though. How many more good posters are we going to lose to these puppies? Was last December for nothing?
posted by bonehead at 2:02 PM on August 29, 2008


Those goobers have a pretty good body count though. How many more good posters are we going to lose to these puppies? Was last December for nothing?

Calling them goobers is not helping. Seriously, everyone take a deep breath. It's a big site with a lot of people that covers a lot of touchy subjects. I respect where you're coming from but treating any members as if they're naughty puppies that need training is really condescending.

If you think there are specific people that fit that bill, let us know and we can try to work it out with them. However, we really don't do the SHAME ON YOU BAD DOG thing very much with users -- though there's some community opprobium certainly that helps shape what's acceptable and not acceptable -- because it flat out doesn't work. The reason that "this post is bad and you should feel bad" is so amusing is because it plays on that shaming thing and it's flat out not effective.

We've talked about the VPILF stuff and I don't really worry that there will be tasteless posts like that to the front page. This was a few comments. There's a huge gap between them. The gas station hose is totally your imagination (or you saw it someplace else) and I can say right now it's just not going to happen. If you think there haven't been changes on the site since last December, I'd have to respectfully disagree with you there.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:10 PM on August 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


Would you call this comment about how she played fast and loose with the safety of her unborn child, which unless I am TOTALLY mistaken was the one who we now know has Downs Syndrome, "misogynistic"? I call it one of the scariest things I have ever heard about a politician of either party.

Wendell, my honest answer to this question is that I wouldn't necessarily call it misogynistic, but the comment itself bothers me a lot. I think it's flirting with a whole load of sexist assumptions that cause a lot of women [who have far fewer resources and visibility than Palin] a lot of grief.

Do you know much about National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW)? That's what I thought of after reading that question. It's this fabulous, very feminist organization that has done a lot of political advocacy linking the drumbeat of anti-choice rhetoric that ramped up during the 1980s to the way that pregnant women's bodies are increasingly under surveillance, and how women's civil rights are being encroached upon in a very real way by this idea that any risk a pregnant woman takes should be potentially subject to legal regulation or prosecution. (For instance, pregnant women who miscarry and also test positive for drugs being brought up on murder charges.) I think that a truly feminist position recognizes that there is no such thing as avoiding all risk while pregnant, and that it's not the place of anyone but the woman herself to make decisions about what level of risk [for both herself and her fetus] she's willing to undergo in the course of her daily life. To hold otherwise is to believe it's okay for women's lives to be circumscribed because you don't trust them enough to make important and potentially life-altering decisions for themselves and their children. (Does this line of reasoning sound familiar? It should, if you hang out around pro-choice people.)

Anyway. That comment made me grimace a little, because yeah--she did play fast and loose with her unborn child, but so do women who drive while pregnant (you know what a seatbelt across the abdomen might do if you get in an accident?) or have a glass of wine while pregnant or do one of a million other things that might result in harm to their unborn child. It seems like a dangerous road to go down to start attacking her over that, because I can guarantee you she's not going to be put in jail for that decision, but if that line of reasoning is widely accepted as a valid criticism, poorer women with less resources could end up facing charges for the same sort of thing.
posted by iminurmefi at 2:17 PM on August 29, 2008 [12 favorites]


Ya'll are sounding like pro-lifers when you question a woman's right to make her own damn decisions about her body. Just because Palin is anti-choice doesn't make it ok to throw that rhetoric back at her.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:24 PM on August 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


Driving a car whilst preganant is pretty diffeent from taking a flight whilst having contractions.
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on August 29, 2008

Just because Palin is anti-choice doesn't make it ok to throw that rhetoric back at her.
Since Palin may be in a position to have a vast, profound effect on reproductive rights in America, yeah, it does. Yesterday, it was her personal choice. Now, it's a matter of public policy.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:39 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Way to not get the point. Wow.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:41 PM on August 29, 2008


Is your point that we shouldn’t talk about her womb? Because, really, she’s going to talk about her womb. A lot.
posted by Artw at 2:42 PM on August 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


(I said this already in MetaChat, but what the hell...)

I expect the next couple of months will be a grand buffet for GOP push pollers and rat fuckers.

Any day now, we should start hearing reports of female voters receiving unsolicited calls from organizations with names like "Concerned Voters for Obama" posing questions along the lines of:

(to a registered Republican)
Did you know that when Sarah Palin was pregnant with her fifth child, she decided NOT to have an abortion, even though she knew full well that the child would be born with Down Syndrome? Is that the type of leader you want making decisions that will affect your family? Vote Barack HUSSEIN Obama.

(to a registered Democrat)
Did you know John McCain's running mate, ex-beauty queen and mother of five Sarah Palin, is the least qualified VP candidate since Geraldine Ferraro? Can we really afford to put our country's future in the hands of a soccer mom with delusions of grandeur? Vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden—the right MEN for the job.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:42 PM on August 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


There was a lot of objectionable boyzone crap in that thread, but what you are objecting to is legitimate criticism of a politician's living her politics. The personal is political, after all.

None of it was worth a callout. Wishes that some folks will grow up or learn to think beyond their dick, yeah, but, hey, what thread doesn't that happen in?

(The accusations of hypocracy on the right to choice issue are missing the point. Removing non-living cells is completely different from choosing to give birth to a child you know is defective. That is cruel, both to that child and to the rest of the family. She has a right to choose what happens with her body, not with anyone else's.)
posted by QIbHom at 2:45 PM on August 29, 2008


Just because Palin is anti-choice doesn't make it ok to throw that rhetoric back at her.

Calling out Palin on how her behavior conflicts with her politics is no different than calling out the Larry Craigs and Mary Cheneys in the Republican Party, who support Republican Party policy against providing equal protection for gays, while enjoying the spoils of status that insulate them from their own party's hate campaign.

If she put her "unborn child" at risk, then she should be subject to the same scrutiny that the anti-choice crowd puts on other mothers who put their "unborn children" at risk. Of course, given the massive hypocrisy of the Republican Party, we'll never see a moment's honest self-evaluation out of them.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:47 PM on August 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


The likelihood of a woman her age having a child with Trisomy 21 is around 20%. It does seem, to my way of thinking, a strange risk to take to get pregnant at that age in the first place, when there are already 4 children to love in your home, and so many more in need, kliving in poverty. I don't understand that drive. Perhaps someone will educate me.

Um, huh? The best figures I can find is 3.5% of live births. This certainly is an increased risk that women over the age of 40 should take into consideration when making these kinds of complicated decisions, but it's not even close to 20%, a rate that strikes me as utterly unbelievable and unnecessary scaremongering.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:01 PM on August 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Amen to what iminumefi said. wendell, I wouldn't jump to call the comment you linked misogynistic, but I would suggest it's inconsistent with a pro-choice view, and as such, maybe borderline.

The fact is, and this in an uncomfortable fact hard to reconcile with other considerations, that in the United States Palin could have chosen to terminate her pregnancy at the point at which she is being faulted for flying while carrying a late-term pregnancy. Had she done that, the event would have fallen, yes, into a very small percentage of US women who make that choice. But the choice could have been made legally (and defended I believe vociferously on this site), based on the disability of the fetus or (hypothetically) because Palin felt intense depression or anxiety at the prospect of raising this child.

This is a hypothetical situation I identify with, having brought to term a couple years ago, when I was 36, an unexpected pregnancy with a fourth child. I declined prenatal testing because the results would have made no difference to me. Even though I emphatically had not planned to get pregnant at the time.

The point is, if a woman can be trusted at that point to decide whether to give birth or not, then she can be trusted to decide whether or not to get on an airplane. Or do you want to get into all the heated debates about midwives vs hospital deliveries, epidurals vs natural delivery, and all that? If the woman can be trusted to make the give-birth-or-not decision, then she must be trusted to make her own medical choices prior to delivery.

What I do consider misogynistic is to fault a candidate who espouses pro-life views for doing exactly what she expects others to do, on the assumption that she should have aborted or used a condom (as if we have any way to know her contraceptive practice). If you believe in a woman's right to choose, you have to support her right to choose to carry to term. You have NO right to question her contraceptive use (how fucked up is that?) or beliefs about persons with disabilities.

I understand the concern about her wanting to deny the choice to other women, but that has NOTHING to do with the choices she made personally. A respectable pro-choice position would respect her choice, not snark at it.
posted by torticat at 3:02 PM on August 29, 2008 [11 favorites]


2nding sondrialiac, thanks for bringing this up and pointing out those comments which I'd missed in the thread. I agree that those are pretty horrendous comments. Questioning someone's right to reproduce, particularly in that fashion, raises shades of eugenics and that is not something that should be slipped into the pro-life/pro-choice debate as if it belongs there.
posted by XMLicious at 3:02 PM on August 29, 2008


What some people are confusing is that there are real honest people who are informed and intelligent who support equal rights for men and women of every sexual persuasion, race, class, religion and musical taste.. This means they might see reproductive rights as granting a right to be born. I for one am not gonna get on a platform about the subject (as I think it will be a moot point in 100 years), I probably loathe Dobson and co more than anyone here and I have little respect for the Catholic church. But it's disingenuous at best to dismiss all who favor rights for all humans, including the unborn, as being somehow anti-woman, pro Republican party's social platform and beneath contempt. Take the position seriously, please. At least from those who take yrs seriously.
posted by dawson at 3:06 PM on August 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Welcome to the next two months.

I need a time machine.
posted by Artw at 3:08 PM on August 29, 2008


Questioning the choices of a public figure is not the same as restricting those choices by legislation.
posted by grouse at 3:08 PM on August 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, there have been some great posts that might get overlooked. Flag and move on, go participate in those threads, be part of the solution.
posted by geekyguy at 3:14 PM on August 29, 2008


Questioning the choices of a public figure is not the same as restricting those choices by legislation.

Certainly not. On the other hand there is a fair quantity of feminist criticism addressing the way in which women's reproductive health choices are uniquely open for such "questioning." Or in other words, that torticat says.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:14 PM on August 29, 2008


I need a time machine.

Let's climb aboard, we two, the Glenlivet 12000. It still costs a little more than gas, but that may not still be true when we stumble, bleary-eyed, into the future.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:15 PM on August 29, 2008 [7 favorites]


the Glenlivet 12000
I myself am on the New Amsterdam express and see you two out my port window...
posted by dawson at 3:21 PM on August 29, 2008


Ambrosia Voyeur:Hey, the personal is political, and if zardoz finds large families to be an uneccessary ecological drain, I won't argue with him. Palin's husband is equally due for such criticisms, but he's not the person about whom we are talking.
But (I also asked this in the original thread) why don't we see those criticisms asked in the exact same way about men with large families, and why does it come up THE MINUTE we are talking about a woman? McCain has seven children. His youngest was born when he was 55. Furthermore: the argument was not that large families drain on the environment, the argument was that a woman is not the boss of her own body after all, because she should only become pregnant when someone else (like zardoz) deems it safe and sensible. How is that for pro choice?

The likelihood of a woman her age having a child with Trisomy 21 is around 20%. It does seem, to my way of thinking, a strange risk to take to get pregnant at that age in the first place, when there are already 4 children to love in your home, and so many more in need, kliving in poverty. I don't understand that drive. Perhaps someone will educate me.
Most people who get a baby at age 44 did not plan to have a(nother) child.
posted by davar at 3:24 PM on August 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


I disagreed with several posters, so I addressed their comments in thread. I thought there were many distasteful comments in that thread, but I found many interesting and thought provoking. Some people, I think, including me at times, have trouble separating their entire impression of one thread from the individual posts in a thread.

If you're going to bring something to Meta, I hope it would be for a complaint about more than one or two users. When you refute arguments you disagree with as a meta-call-out, it raises your argument to a much more easily seen level than others have the benefit of having. It's like using a megaphone during a debate over lunch.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:30 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ack, regarding my Trisomy 21 likelihood figure, I'm poring through my history to find which page game that to me, because everything else at hand shows it was indeed wrong. I'm gonna hunt that page down, though, I'll tell you that. I'm not a deliberate scaremonger, by any means. I couldn't care less, anyway, about that aspect of her pregnancy, so I probably shouldn't have even mentioned it. I just think being fruitful and multiplying in that way conflicts with my idea of conservatism. What's good by God and what's good by the Earth are in conflict here, and people's personal choices of whim tipping the balance between those two help me decide whether I find them wise.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:33 PM on August 29, 2008


davar: McCain has seven children.

Yes, and no one is calling him out because the father's age is associated with increased risk of birth defects.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:36 PM on August 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


In the time we've been discussing this, that thread has actually become a lot more interesting and a lot less annoying, in my personal opinion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:38 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Torticat said what I was trying to say with waaaay better clarity.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:42 PM on August 29, 2008


*embarrassed*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:47 PM on August 29, 2008


Yes, and no one is calling him out because the father's age is associated with increased risk of birth defects.
In the beginning of THIS thread people talked about environmental concerns, so that has nothing to do with that. And I think you meant to say that father's age is not associated with increased risk of birth defects? If so, you are wrong.
posted by davar at 3:48 PM on August 29, 2008


Is that T-21 rate for conception or for live births? Because those will be two pretty different numbers, I suspect.
posted by Rumple at 4:02 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


So davar, KirkJobSluder said something that is right. Inexplicably, you have decided he meant to say the opposite of the correct thing, and is therefore wrong. I don't get it.
posted by grouse at 4:09 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


...choosing to give birth to a child you know is defective. That is cruel, both to that child and to the rest of the family.

Uh, I don't know where to start. Put it this way: you might not have used some of those words if you knew any folk with Down Syndrome and their families.
posted by jack_mo at 4:23 PM on August 29, 2008 [11 favorites]


"The VPILF comment should stand on record. Maybe it should be sidebarred, even.
posted by Blazecock Pileon
"

Dude, aren't you gay? Like, for men?

"if you can't see that, maybe you're not as liberal as you thought."

That's why I'm a registered independent. I can say and think whatever I want, because I don't give a fuck what you think. Hilary shits what the aborted fetus cunt 2nd ammendment right Obama twat tapdancing school vouchers armed revolution ANWR school shootings ecky ecky ecky flyover swing state outhouse randroid librul paleocon douchestorm handjob Hussein McCainstain trisomy feedbag Wal*Mart consumer whore capitalist pig commie pinko hippie jarhead spam spam spammity spam carnivale sucked gonadotropin illegal immigrant hired help opposite of pro-gress prison rape legalize it weren't you going to Canada trebuchet pancake BDS Farquhar Rumblebottom palin comparison biden time Osama's yo mama and did I already mention douchestorm retard crackbaby crackberry yuppie scum moderate fucko waffleboarding reprobate silly wank-kneed reactionary district block captain catbox patriot asshole warmer.
posted by Eideteker at 4:30 PM on August 29, 2008 [28 favorites]


I don't know whether to favorite that comment or flag it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:32 PM on August 29, 2008


Flagged as Fantastic.
posted by Artw at 4:33 PM on August 29, 2008


The publishers of the previous comment would like to issue the following corrections, retractions, and clarifications:

Correction: BDS should be B.D.S., as it is an abbreviation.

Retraction: Wank-kneed. Strike that from the record. Just take it right out. Sounded funnier in my head than it does now... in my head... when I'm reading it... as opposed to when I wrote it.


Clarification: Suck it, assbags!
posted by Eideteker at 4:33 PM on August 29, 2008


but, but but Artw, you didn't fave it! You bad cheater guy man.
posted by dawson at 4:36 PM on August 29, 2008


Favourited for "wank kneed".
posted by Artw at 4:38 PM on August 29, 2008


How about a time out to Eideteker for that? I'm not kidding.
posted by onlyconnect at 4:41 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


So is that supposed to be sung in my head like Subterranean Homesick Blues, It's The End of the World as We Know It, or We Didn't Start The Fire?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:42 PM on August 29, 2008


I don't get it.
I didn't either, obviously. So KirkJobSluder was actually emphasising my point? Can I use "it's late" or "English is not my own language" as an excuse?
posted by davar at 4:42 PM on August 29, 2008


How about a time out to Eideteker for that? I'm not kidding.

I know you're not kidding, but that seems pretty strong-arm in reaction to what looks a lot more like a dada fit than an attack on anyone. I'd be more inclined to just tell him that the whole Metatalk-sanction verbal diarrhea Offense Fest thing is equal parts quonsarian and really annoyingly tired, however righteously it's meant, etc.

Hey, Eideteker? The whole Metatalk-sanctioned verbal diarrhea Offense Fest thing is equal parts quonsarian and really annoyingly tired, however righteously it's meant. On a day that's been as full of GRRR RAWR and high emotions as this one, it'd be nice to maybe lay off that sort of thing so as not to just piss more people off.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:58 PM on August 29, 2008


What we need is some FPPs, people. Be interesting!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:21 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Two-thirds of Down's conceptions are spontaneously aborted and many individuals with the disease die in childhood.



Four months ago, my fifth child was born with Down syndrome…so I value innocent life. It took many months for me to get my arms around the idea of, first, having a fifth child at my age, but also knowing that my child would have an extra chromosome. But I prayed the whole time, "God, just prepare me, prepare my heart and prepare my family." And talk about confirmation of that prayer, I mean, Trig is just—he is to me—absolutely perfect.



[From a comment by hydrophonic] Here's a reply to a Nat Hentoff column (scroll down to the last comment by JakeW) that takes a different view of her actions and contrasts it against her pro-life positions:

"Palin made the decision to travel to Texas to a Governor's conference while 36 weeks pregnant, a time during which obstetricians would tell you it’s foolish to travel via plane. Air travel is a known risk for pregnancy complications, which is indeed what happened. The governor, while on a self-promoting trip to deliver a speech, had premature rupture of fetal membranes: her water broke.

Call your local OB department and ask what to do if you think that your water has broken. You’ll be advised to seek an immediate hands-on examination by an obstetrician. The baby will be placed on a monitor to make sure it’s OK. Premature rupture of membranes can lead to life-threatening infection and premature delivery.

What did Sarah Palin do? She did NOT go to a local hospital and did NOT have her baby checked on a fetal monitor to make sure it was OK. She called her family practice doctor in Alaska for advice. What advice was given isn’t clear, but it’s clearly quoted that she "did not ask for a medical OK to fly". Whether it was OK to fly should be the FIRST question anyone considering traveling by air should have, if they were at all interested in protecting the life of the unborn. Regardless, she decided to give her speech at the conference without having any evaluation other than the long-distance advice of a family practitioner. Her speech was more important to her than making any effort to make sure her unborn child was OK. Then, she decided to fly back to Alaska, an 11-hour trip. In addition, she failed to inform flight personnel that her water had broken."


I think it's plain that Sarah Palin made a very vigorous effort to make sure that the will of God was that she should be among the fortunate two-thirds who spontaneously abort their Down syndrome babies, and that the repeated assertions that her baby is "perfect" are an ultimately futile attempt to paper over an abyss of confusion and pain.

How sad, how very tragic; and yet it is a tragedy that is destined to be multiplied by many thousands if we are so unfortunate as to see her elected.
posted by jamjam at 5:22 PM on August 29, 2008 [7 favorites]


How about a time out to Eideteker for that? I'm not kidding.

"Mommmmm! Eideteker swore!"
posted by The Light Fantastic at 5:23 PM on August 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Questioning the choices of a public figure is not the same as restricting those choices by legislation.

Driving a car whilst pregnant is pretty different from taking a flight whilst having contractions.

A respectable pro-choice position would respect her choice, not snark at it.

I guess I'm not really pro-choice, just anti-bad-law. I can easily find specific examples where having an abortion was the wrong choice, for real, non-emotional reasons. I can also easily find examples where not aborting was the wrong choice, and I'd even be willing to explain my judgment right to the face of the person born because of that bad choice (as long as I am wearing protective gear). But then, I know of some non-trivial reasons why my own birth wasn't such a good idea (and not the ones most of you who wish I'd never been born have).

I consider it very important that people (male and female) take responsibility for the consequences of all of their choices. Where you draw a legal line is an extremely difficult decision and whenever it is probable that "legal judgment" can turn into an amplification of bad human judgment, the best law is NO law.

I do support motorcycle helmet laws, simply because the next best alternative is banning hospitals from treating the helmet-less victims of motorcycle head injuries.
posted by wendell at 5:30 PM on August 29, 2008


Eideteker, I have been wank-kneed all my life and I consider it neither an insult nor a disability. Just a unique way to entertain at parties.
posted by wendell at 5:32 PM on August 29, 2008


It's gonna be a long two months.

Nah. I've already decided to vote for Obama on the advice of Handsome Dick Manitoba, who told me that he's voting for him because (and I quote) 'Bruce Springsteen said I should.' So, I give myself permission to ignore ll the rest of the election coverage. If Barack gets caught microwaving bunnyrabbits or molesting potted plants, I figure someone will tell me, but otherwise I'll take a pass on all the minutia.
posted by jonmc at 5:35 PM on August 29, 2008


I know you're not kidding, but that seems pretty strong-arm in reaction to what looks a lot more like a dada fit than an attack on anyone. . . . On a day that's been as full of GRRR RAWR and high emotions as this one

cortex, you are generally a great dude but did you just basically call my reaction to a comment that was aimed directly at me which was filled with profanity (including cunt and whore) as the product of my high emotions? Like maybe I'm on my period?

Women have left this site time and time again because stupid stuff like this, and I still never see any men getting a wrist slap over it. I guess maybe it's done sometimes behind the scenes. I'm not on my period. I've argued consistently on this site with people without pulling out the nasty language. I'm asking for respect.
posted by onlyconnect at 5:44 PM on August 29, 2008


Well, what did Nietzsche say? When you fight monsters (like Republicans), you have to become a monster yourself in order to win. Something like that.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:44 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yikes, jamjam. Araucaria linked to an article in the Anchorage Daily News that has more information about Palin flying after her water broke. I don't know if I think she got bad medical advice or if she showed poor judgment or what, but I never thought that she secretly wanted to abort her fetus.
posted by hydrophonic at 5:44 PM on August 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've already decided to vote for Obama on the advice of Handsome Dick Manitoba

In which case I'd have to vote McCain in protest about Handsome Dick having been such a dick towards Manitoba.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:45 PM on August 29, 2008


Well, what did Nietzsche say? When you fight monsters (like Republicans), you have to become a monster yourself in order to win.

Dibs on Gamera.
posted by jonmc at 5:47 PM on August 29, 2008


Now, as it happens she's super-pro-life ..., but we can perfectly well make that - her stated and demonstrated political views - the topic without criticizing her decisions about her own family.

Exactly. Those who think opposition to her views somehow justifies pointing a finger at her own choices (which are in accordance with her views, so the "hypocrisy" card does not come into play) are letting their partisanship override their logic and humanity. (I'd throw around the term "asshat" except I recently suggested dobbs stay off the GRAWR and I'm taking my own advice.)
posted by languagehat at 5:51 PM on August 29, 2008


FWIW, my Mom had my youngest sister when she was 40, and that kid's the smartest and best-adjusted member of the whole family going back several generations.
posted by jonmc at 5:52 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


onlyconnect, I don't think that wasn't an attack on you personally. It was Eideteker affecting a fuckall maverick independent attitude. It was not that funny, and I know loquacious and you sir, etc. but girl, this isn't the battle we have to fight. It was JUST goofball pseudo Tourette's. Walk on!! Taking that stuff to be personal attack does make you seem to be high-strung. Don't stoop to examine the dogshit! Eide's a nice enough guy, I sincerely doubt he would up and insinuate you were any of those nasty things for so little reason. Then again, I AM on PMS (mmmm nonfat mocha medicine) so, I could be hysterical!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:01 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


cortex, you are generally a great dude but did you just basically call my reaction to a comment that was aimed directly at me which was filled with profanity (including cunt and whore) as the product of my high emotions? Like maybe I'm on my period?

If we're talking respect let's continue in that vein. No one said anything like that to you, and we wouldn't. The high emotions referred to are everyone's, including mine and cortex's. The strong-arm response was banning someone for basically ill-timed swearing and acting out.

cortex said that banning seemed like a big deal for what was essentially an uncool but not out of character text dump of a whole bunch of bad language. cortex and I both thought it showed poor judgement and poor timing and he said as much. That said, it's not hateful speech directed at anyone in particular as much as a nasty-dictionary-index. Swearing on MetaFilter isn't against the rules.

I have as much distaste for the crappy stuff said here and in the McCain/Palin thread as anyone, but I really think the only way we're going to get to sit and be able to listen to/hear one another is to

- ignore some of the obviously over the top intended-to-provoke shit
- trust that people mean what they say generally and there's not some hidden crappy meaning and that people haven't changed overnight into bad versions of themselves
- keep your own language, tone and tenor at about what you'd like to hear from other people

I don't know what else to say here. None of us on the mod team would ever say anything like "omg are you on your period" or imply it because we don't think that way about other people. Trust and respect go both ways.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:01 PM on August 29, 2008 [13 favorites]


wow. Just so wow.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:20 PM on August 29, 2008


I've got my man-period, so I'm keeping my trap shut.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:26 PM on August 29, 2008


"if you can't see that, maybe you're not as liberal as you thought."

That's why I'm a registered independent. I can say and think whatever I want, because I don't give a fuck what you think. Hilary shits what the (etc etc etc)


I think onlyconnect was taking that underlined "you" to be directed at her personally, and then it was followed by a bunch of swearing including twat, cunt, etc. I think that's why she was feeling attacked and like the comment was not ok.

onlyconnect: I read that comment a different way. I read the underlined "you" as being "y'all schmucks hanging around MeTa getting into this big stir" or something along those lines. I think the big cursing text dump is more of a general "all these politics threads are so full of buzzwords, I will now goof around"; I didn't see it as being directed at you personally.

So I didn't take cortex to be being dismissive of an attack on you personally, but as being tolerant of a more general "hey everybody in the room, look at me make weird faces" comment.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:27 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


cortex, you are generally a great dude but did you just basically call my reaction to a comment that was aimed directly at me which was filled with profanity (including cunt and whore) as the product of my high emotions? Like maybe I'm on my period?

What AV and Jess just said. No, I very much did not, nor can I imagine going there. I'm talking about the whole site, and the going-on-a-thousand comments coming out of people in general just in these two threads today. I think Eideteker's comment was obnoxious in a very that's-been-done, why-do-it-again-right-now sort of way, and I'm pretty tired of people throwing around "cunt" for shock effect, but it also featured words like "Rumblebottom" and "randoid" and "tapdancing" and really didn't read it as directed at you as an attack so much as him using the quote as an excuse to do a Lenny Bruce Jr. riff for all his free-association was worth. Dumb, but pretty benignly so.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:28 PM on August 29, 2008


(mmmm beer & football medicine)
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:30 PM on August 29, 2008


onlyconnect, please allow me to publicly apologize to you. That text dump was not directed at you specifically, even though I used a quote from you as the lead-in to the joke. The "you" in "don't give a fuck what you think" was directed at everyone here equally. Everyone in America, and the entire world, in fact. Please do not feel singled out.

I certainly was not referring to anyone by any of the nouns, adjectives, etc. used in that comment. Each word was carefully decontextualized so as to be just that, a word. Not an implication, imprecation, insult, or the like. Please understand it as the explosion of a non-partisan mind in a partisan world (country, website). This polarizing bullshit is just trying on a body sometimes.

So let's all just chillax, enjoy the holiday weekend, have a few laughs; and then, on Tuesday, get back to work on how we're all going to make the future a better place than the present by blogging about it.

And to the mods, well, I'm sorry for increasing your workload. Obviously, some people thought my comment was funny, and I'm sure others were offended. I don't really care about the offended, but I do care that onlyconnect knows I wasn't directing any part of my comment at her. I hope my comment history here bears out the fact that were I to attack someone (rather than their beliefs, political opinions, etc.), I would do so in a much cleverer and more sophisticated manner than that.
posted by Eideteker at 6:30 PM on August 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hey, if anything, I got us to stop talking about VPILFs, abortion, and birth defects. Now the healing can begin.

I'm good for MetaFilter. I'm good for America.

I'm Eideteker, and I approve of this message, but not the medium.
posted by Eideteker at 6:34 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think it's plain that Sarah Palin made a very vigorous effort to make sure that the will of God was that she should be among the fortunate two-thirds who spontaneously abort their Down syndrome babies

Unbelievable. jamjam, read the actual article. 37 weeks fyi is considered a full-term pregnancy; 36 barely premature. Especially for a fifth pregnancy. A spontaneous abortion at this point is not the likely outcome (the baby will almost certainly be born alive); and to suggest the woman boarded a plane in hopes of triggering stillbirth is really messed up. Palin was in consultation with her doctor...wasn't there something about "between a woman, her doctor, and her god"?

(I didn't want to get into the weeds of that story; but really this is the kind of ill-informed, ideologically blinkered, personally invasive comment I made the callout about in the first place.)

Also, going waaaay back: you are absolutely right, orthogonality; I acknowledge the bad form of posting here and not the original thread. I was angry enough to make the meta point without taking the time to engage in the discussion. Sorry, and I hope to be able to get back later. Being the aforementioned mother of four, I'm having trouble keeping up with both threads. :)

jessamyn, I appreciate your points. I actually tried to be restrained in my post. If you don't agree that "beyond sick" is an appropriate description for the universal belief that DS pregnancies ought to be terminated--or alternatively, if this is what zardoz meant, that we have any business questioning Palin's responsible use, or not, of contraceptives--okay; I just disagree.
posted by torticat at 6:37 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


An old college friend called me out yesterday after I became a supporter of McKinney/Clamente on Facebook. The 21st century sucks.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:39 PM on August 29, 2008


Clemente
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:40 PM on August 29, 2008


I'm a 32 year old woman who wants to have children. Just so I know, at what age do I become a bad person for getting pregnant? And if I do get pregnant with a Down Syndrome baby, am I a better person if I abort it or if I have it? My, I wish I had some sort of book of rules or laws that would tell me the right decisions to make about my body and take away all those options and difficult choices! Oh wait, no I don't. The lot of you sound just as bad as Palin.

Pro-choice means respecting other people's choices, too.
posted by amro at 6:41 PM on August 29, 2008 [12 favorites]


FWIW, my Mom had my youngest sister when she was 40, and that kid's the smartest and best-adjusted member of the whole family going back several generations.

C'mon, jonmc; you're pitting her against a giant flying snapping turtle whose past times are destroying Tokyo and saving children. I'd say it should be pretty easy to seem well adjusted in that company.
posted by kaibutsu at 6:43 PM on August 29, 2008


If you don't agree that "beyond sick" is an appropriate description

I think you and I generally agree about what we think about zardoz' general statements in that thread.

However, if I were trying to constructively engage him or people who think like him on the topics referred to in that post, I would choose my words differently. "Beyond sick" may be apt and it may be accurate, but it is not tactical.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:57 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


'We should all be proud of Governor Sarah Palin's historic nomination, and I congratulate her and Senator McCain" ~ HRC
But...but...senator Clinton, this is metafilter, we are so more nuanced than that!
posted by dawson at 7:20 PM on August 29, 2008


I have noticed that it is generally men who start acting weird and crazy when women have their period. I have also noticed that men are the ones who have penis envy. In fact, this seems true of most of what men accuse women of.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:22 PM on August 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm a 32 year old woman who wants to have children. Just so I know, at what age do I become a bad person for getting pregnant?

According to this, 35 is the age when the risk of Downs Syndrome is considered high enough to justify testing through amniocentesis, which of course carries its own risk. I'm not sure what the bad person cut-off is.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:22 PM on August 29, 2008


I believe I was the first one to bring up the term VPILF in the Palin post. My comment seems to have been deleted, but it was something along the lines that certainly it wouldn't be long before some MeFite said VPILF thus resetting the Cooter clock. I don't think my comment should have been deleted, but as Jessamyn said, things were moving hot and fast in the thread and in this callout.
posted by Daddy-O at 7:25 PM on August 29, 2008


I just love how it's always "some comments in that thread were offensive" but not this specific one or that specific one.

just sayin'
posted by lunit at 7:35 PM on August 29, 2008


And if I do get pregnant with a Down Syndrome baby, am I a better person if I abort it or if I have it?

Better person is a tough call, but I definitely think better choice to abort it. Better than unnecessarily sticking some kid with a passel of rather fundamental health problems.

The right to a choice doesn't mean every choice is right.

But yeah, I'm pretty much not just pro-choice but also pro-abortion; that's maybe going to be an interesting shift these coming years.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:59 PM on August 29, 2008


You know, the thread itself has gotten much more interesting re: this pregnancy.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:03 PM on August 29, 2008


I'm pretty much not just pro-choice but also pro-abortion

I agree. The more I think about it, the less comfortable I get with the idea of imposing life on someone.

I'm not going to say it's "wrong," because that's meaningless. It's certainly not something I want to have anything to do with, though.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:06 PM on August 29, 2008


Metafilter: "life"="like"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:11 PM on August 29, 2008


Hello, all. Origin of the offensive comments here. First let me say that I didn't mean to offend anyone and apologize if I did. I think I had a knee-jerk reaction to hearing about a middle-aged woman having a child, but my opinion as I wrote it was crude. I don't know enough about Palin's personal life and family dynamics to judge her on her decision to have a baby.

However, as a health concern, there's no question that a 44 (or 43?) -year-old woman will have a considerably increased chance of a handicapped child, namely Down's Syndrome. I'm NOT saying she should've had an abortion. I'm saying she and her husband have a responsibility--as we all do--to consider the health of the yet-to-be-conceived baby.

Now, maybe they were planning to have a baby, maybe the baby was a surprise. To me, there is a big difference between the two. The former is a choice, and this was the reason I made the post. The latter is obviously not a choice, and my criticism of Palin does not apply AT ALL. This is what I failed to explain. And either way, I wouldn't doubt her love and devotion to her children, handicapped or no. But there is a difference between the two situations.

A deliberate choice to have a child after a certain age seems to be based on her very strong religious beliefs. If she's running for political office, and perhaps will be in the biggest political office of all someday, knowing about her character through this issue I think is fair game.

I understand why some thought my comments offensive, and I didn't mean them to sound that way. I hope I've made my opinion at least a little clearer.
posted by zardoz at 8:12 PM on August 29, 2008


I have never ever once suspected that the world* would ever be crazier than me, that somehow the little Bugs Bunny/Hunter Thompson/G.G. Allin/Valerie Solanas/Samuel Beckett/Emma Goldman/George Romero monster that works my brain would ever just have to throw up its hands and say "Fuck it man, I got no idea, you drive." But here we are, nonetheless. Anno Domini my brothers and sisters, it makes mockeries of us all.

The only way McCain could ever get my vote is if his VP pick was that Cuban dude who cold facekicked the ref in that Tae Kwon Do shit at the Olympics as his VP. Not that that wasn't a totally corny thing to do, it's he did what what I'm always wishing I could do, except to God.


Crazy as it is, yo. I always rolled with the punches, for reals. The fuck, I'ma be in my bunker with a chopped down AK, a HUGE bag of lawyer weed and some Father Ted DVDs. If someone could do the shave and a haircut knock if Aliens come down with some kind of painless mind ray that makes us all even like 7% saner I think I could handle that, much obliged.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:35 PM on August 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


If someone could do the shave and a haircut knock if Aliens come down with some kind of painless mind ray that makes us all even like 7% saner...

The Man already co-opted that shit. You want at least the Terminator knock (knock knock knock KNOCK KNOCK) to be safe.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:46 PM on August 29, 2008


Well, I think all of them were offensive. Maybe it's because I'm just a stupid man, thinking with my barely adequate cock.

Seriously. She made her kid a part of her political persona- she started it. That's why she's a bad person. Not her reproductive choices- her politicizing of them.
posted by gjc at 8:46 PM on August 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've befreinded many Down's Syndrome children in my time, and it's plainly obvious to me that they are some of the most joyful, happy people I have ever encountered. If everyone I knew was as enthusiastic about their own existence as they are, this miserable planet might be a better place in which to live. Certainly their life expectancy is lower than non-Down's people, but to what end? Have any of you ever met a perpetually crabby person who has Down's Syndrome? If you have, I venture that it's the exception rather than the rule. Perhaps it's the rest of us who are handicapped, and it's they who are what the rest of us shoudl aspire to be. What good is a longer life if it's spent grumping about, rather than experiencing every moment full of wonder and joy?
posted by An Infinity Of Monkeys at 8:48 PM on August 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Pro-choice means respecting other people's choices, too.

I couldn't agree more.

There are a set of comments, here and in the big thread, harshing on her for her contraceptive and childbearing choices. The choices she has made aren't the ones I have made (I don't have five kids, for one), but I can't in any way see how her choices about her body are something that makes her a good or bad potential president.

It's not like she is being accused of killing and eating her neighbors' children, or something awful like that.

Look, it's ok not to like her, and to be really angry that the GOP seems to be outsmarting the Dems for the moment on this one (at least in terms of news coverage, if nothing else). But that doesn't mean that we have to drift beyond ire and into sexist commentary. There are a lot of really legitimate reasons to attack her — there is no need to resort to the attacks on her as a mother, or the whole beauty pageant thing.

(Also, I'm not sure how to say this without yelling and blowing a gasket, but the comments suggesting that preemptive abortions of disabled children is the only ethical choice? Other than the mother and father in question, who the fuck's business is that?)
posted by Forktine at 8:52 PM on August 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Other than the mother and father in question, who the fuck's business is that?)

Certainly the (perhaps future) child's, at least.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:56 PM on August 29, 2008


TRISOMY 21 IS GETTING DOWN
posted by quonsar at 9:16 PM on August 29, 2008


TheOnlyCoolTim: Better person is a tough call, but I definitely think better choice to abort it. Better than unnecessarily sticking some kid with a passel of rather fundamental health problems.

So my nephew, who comes from a close-knit, loving family, has lots of friends, actively participates in his community and is genuinely happy and affectionate, would be better off dead rather than non-genetically perfect? I'm guessing if you gave him the choice between continuing to live his life as usual or killing him to put him out of his misery he'd pick the former.
posted by The Gooch at 10:13 PM on August 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing if you gave him the choice between continuing to live his life as usual or killing him to put him out of his misery he'd pick the former.

That's ridiculous. By the logic, no one should ever abort a fetus, since the vast majority of people who were not aborted as fetuses do not want to be killed.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:31 PM on August 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


The Gooch, honestly, I find that sort of posturing to be offensive and disgusting. If I were a friend of my mom when she got pregnant with me, as a 20 year-old woman with a father who was about to skip town, I would have told her to have an abortion. That doesn't make me suicidal, just rational. And it doesn't stop my father's parents from using my maternal grandmother's offers of assistance to that same end as a wedge.
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:39 PM on August 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Crap, first Pat Buchanan getting ecstatic over Obama's speech, and now I'm agreeing with Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America.
posted by orthogonality at 10:42 PM on August 29, 2008


Oh boo-hoo Clarence. Buck up or find another sandbox to play in. MetaFilter thrives on vigorous debate. If you're not locking horns with someone from time to time then you're doing it wrong. When people cross the line, you walk away. If you can't walk away, then it's not the site that's the problem.

That's a great example of the dismissive and belligerent attitude that discourages any sort of discussion deeper than Safari v. Firefox.

Pro-choice means respecting other people's choices, too.
Thanks for that, amro, couldn't put it better myself.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:47 PM on August 29, 2008


If this MeTa proves anything, it's that being a defective human has nothing to do with one's chromosome count.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:50 PM on August 29, 2008 [9 favorites]


to paraphrase the zombie carpenter: "show me a human being who is not defective."
posted by klanawa at 10:56 PM on August 29, 2008


That's ridiculous. By the logic, no one should ever abort a fetus, since the vast majority of people who were not aborted as fetuses do not want to be killed.

I think we're reaching apples and oranges territory. Supporting a woman's right to terminate an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy is one thing. Stating outright that it is the "wrong" choice for a woman NOT to abort a fetus solely because it may not come out genetically perfect is another. My point about my nephew was simply that seeing what a happy, joyful little person he turned out to be and what an integral part of my family he's become, it is shockingly offensive to hear people state that the "correct" choice would have been to have had him aborted or to suggest that the only type of person who wouldn't choose to abort under those circumstances has to be some sort of ultra right-wing, anti-abortion, religious zealot nutjob (my sister is none of those things).
posted by The Gooch at 11:07 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Close this thread.
posted by voltairemodern at 11:15 PM on August 29, 2008


I guess the important thing to remember here is that kids born with Trisomy really can't ever lead productive, happy lives---any more so than any children born with any disease or physical abnormality can. I also agree that it's ABSOLUTELY imperative that we tell women when they may or may not continue to have children, at what age they must stop, and at what number they must stop.

...wait, what?

And even more-so, when the HELL did the democratic (or rather anti-conservative) standpoint come to encompass ANY of that sentiment?
posted by TomMelee at 11:16 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


By the logic, no one should ever abort a fetus, since the vast majority of people who were not aborted as fetuses do not want to be killed.

Wrong. Gooch was responding to a comment that said that it would be better to abort because the alternative would be "unnecessarily sticking some kid with a passel of rather fundamental health problems." Saying abortion should be a choice is one thing - saying that bringing a kid with Down's to term is a wrong thing to do to the potential kid is another, and addressing quality of life for such people is a relevant response.
posted by moxiedoll at 11:27 PM on August 29, 2008


"Oh boo-hoo Clarence. Buck up or find another sandbox to play in. MetaFilter thrives on vigorous debate."

For minor issues (mp3 vs vinyl, recumbent bike vs normal bike, long night-sleep versus frequent short naps), yes. For big issues (reproduction, racism, sexism, fascism, etc.), MetaFilter thrives on insulting people and pointing out how, since you disagree with them, they are either evil or imbeciles.

Also, isn't saying "buck up or go somewhere else" kinda silly in response to "I didn't like this aspect, so I went somewhere else"?
posted by Bugbread at 12:54 AM on August 30, 2008


I think I had a knee-jerk reaction to hearing about a middle-aged woman having a child, but my opinion as I wrote it was crude.
...Now, maybe they were planning to have a baby, maybe the baby was a surprise. To me, there is a big difference between the two.


zardoz, thanks for the apology and clarification. I don't understand why "a middle-aged woman having a child" should trigger a knee-jerk reaction, and I don't think it's appropriate to suggest that Palin's religious beliefs might have prompted her to have "as many kids as possible" (a truly extremist idea). Even if the pregnancy was planned, I'm not sure how that's relevant to her governing capabilities, considering that her husband evidently takes the major part of responsibility for the kids.

I won't be voting for McCain/Palin. I just don't like to see a woman in this position questioned about the choices she's made about her family.
posted by torticat at 1:29 AM on August 30, 2008


The right to choose is not the right from the opinion or judgment of others. Abortion is legal, and the right wing will still condemn it and think it a horrible act. This is their right. Everyone has opinions on what others' should and everyone measures other people by their actions. You may not like the standards others use to judge, but you simply have other standards.

Saying someone "should" abort a fetus with Down's Syndrome is not the same as legislating, or wanting to legislate, that they have to. Palin, of course, would legislate that one could not. A lot of people would say it's a bad call not to abort a disabled fetus if the mother is pro-choice. I guess if you want to be offended by that, have fun.
posted by spaltavian at 1:35 AM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


However, as a health concern, there's no question that a 44 (or 43?) -year-old woman will have a considerably increased chance of a handicapped child, namely Down's Syndrome.

Her odds, at age 44, of having a child with Down Syndrome are roughly 1 in 40.

Just for comparison's sake, the overall odds of having any sort of winning ticket in Mega Millions is roughly 1 in 40.

The risk is much greater than for a woman under the age of 35, but still, we're talking here about a 2.5% chance of her child having Down Syndrome. If the weather person told you there was a 2.5% chance of rain tomorrow, would you cancel any outdoor events you had?
posted by dw at 1:40 AM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Overall, I'm kinda shocked that some MetaFilter people, of all people, have proven themselves to be so callous to people with disabilities over the last few days, between this Palin stuff and the Target-NFB thread.

It kinda angers me, honestly. You can oppose Palin's views on abortion -- that if her beliefs were law it would take away from women the right to make a choice other than the one she made -- without piling on her decision, in the process marginalizing women, many of whom are bleeding heart liberal and very pro-choice, who made the exact same choice as her.

And you can do it without minimizing the dignity and rights of people with developmental disabilities.

But the indignity I've seen here, it's a trap. It's exactly the trap the GOP was hoping liberals would step into. And more than a few of you stepped right into it.
posted by dw at 1:56 AM on August 30, 2008 [8 favorites]


I'm the most historic person ever, please vote for me.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:08 AM on August 30, 2008


I think this discussion of abortion and Down's is missing one of our nation's experts on the subject: Michael Berube.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:45 AM on August 30, 2008


Okay, we may be long past this, but for what it's worth:

Eideteker: That text dump was not directed at you specifically, even though I used a quote from you as the lead-in to the joke.

Okay, thank you. I genuinely thought it was directed at me. I thought you were disagreeing specifically with me and my view of what it means to be "liberal," and that you were in effect calling me names like cunt and whore but playfully hiding them amongst other nonsense language with the mock excuse that it was okay because you are an "independent."

cortex: On a day that's been as full of GRRR RAWR and high emotions as this one, it'd be nice to maybe lay off that sort of thing so as not to just piss more people off.

me: cortex, you are generally a great dude but did you just basically call my reaction to a comment that was aimed directly at me which was filled with profanity (including cunt and whore) as the product of my high emotions? Like maybe I'm on my period?

jessamyn: If we're talking respect let's continue in that vein. No one said anything like that to you, and we wouldn't. The high emotions referred to are everyone's, including mine and cortex's.

jessamyn and cortex, I did not intend to disrespect you and did not think I was doing so. As my original comment to cortex reflected, I sincerely believed Eidteker's comment was directed specifically at me. I understood the meaning of cortex's statement to Eideteker to be that he should lay off the quonsar riffing language so as not to engage the "high emotions" of the people it was directed at, i.e., (I thought, obviously), me.

If a member called another female member on the site a cunt or a whore I think that would be an appropriate reason for a time out. The reason for that time out would not be because the target of the name-calling was subject to "high emotions," but because the person who used the language had insulted someone in an inappropriate way.

That was my point. Maybe it was hyperbolic of me to add in the sentence about the implication that I was on my period, because cortex certainly did not say that, and for that I apologize. But I do think it was fair to interpret cortex's statement as focusing "blame" on the emotional state of the target rather than on the namecaller (i.e., don't do this, not because it's wrong, but so you don't piss off people subject to high emotions). To me, the implication of his statement was that a comment that I thought was intended as an offensive personal insult might be ill-considered not because it was exactly that, but because of the "high emotions" of the person it was directed at. Given my view of Eideteker's original comment, I still believe that was a fair interpretation of what cortex -- actual cortex and not some weird, two-headed fork-tongued cortex that I made up in my head -- said. And to me that response seemed wrong.

Thank you to Ambrosia Voyeur and LobsterMitten for making me understand that the comment was not in fact directed at me, despite the fact that it was a response to one of my comments, and to Eideteker again for clarifying what he meant.
posted by onlyconnect at 6:01 AM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd like to take this opportunity to say that Sarah Palin is the perfect VP choice for McCain if his specific goal is to DESTROY METAFILTER.

We will never, ever have a good discussion about Palin on this site, since the liberal male userbase gets all confused when it's confronted with conservative women and doesn't know whether the be sexist or political, and the strong tendency towards ad hominem argument gets crossed with the reasonable desire to callout misogyny.

Please, I'm begging you all: the only way Metafilter can survive this perfect storm is if we declare a moratorium on political-filter right now.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:42 AM on August 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I've got my man-period, so I'm keeping my trap shut.

Dude, you don't know how lucky you are. Just wait until you reach your man-o-pause. Then you'll really start screwing up.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:02 AM on August 30, 2008


A lot of people would say it's a bad call not to abort a disabled fetus if the mother is pro-choice.

And my judgment of those people would be that they are nosy, ignorant assholes.
posted by The Gooch at 7:18 AM on August 30, 2008 [4 favorites]



I'd like to take this opportunity to say that Sarah Palin is the perfect VP choice for McCain if his specific goal is to DESTROY METAFILTER.


Darn that Karl Rove! EEEEEEEvil!

We will never, ever have a good discussion about Palin on this site, since the liberal male userbase gets all confused when it's confronted with conservative women and doesn't know whether the be sexist or political, and the strong tendency towards ad hominem argument gets crossed with the reasonable desire to callout misogyny.

Seems like you are doing the same thing. Disagreeing with a female is not misogyny, despite some of the protests on this thread.

Please, I'm begging you all: the only way Metafilter can survive this perfect storm is if we declare a moratorium on political-filter right now.


I agree- politics is hereby banned because it hurts peoples feelings.
posted by gjc at 7:23 AM on August 30, 2008


A lot of people would say it's a bad call not to abort a disabled fetus if the mother is pro-choice.

And my judgment of those people would be that they are nosy, ignorant assholes.


Agreed. Are we that incapable of nuance that we can't see the difference between the internal and external politics of birth control and abortion? Sarah Palin is to be commended for her fortitude in sticking to her principles. But she ought to be condemned for the hubris that she is displaying in making the logical fallacy that because some decision was right for her, that it ought to be right for the rest of America.
posted by gjc at 7:28 AM on August 30, 2008


Sarah Palin is to be commended for her fortitude in sticking to her principles.

Actually, I don't think that she should. And this is what, I, at least, react to here—the idea that she should be commended for her reproductive choices, when they aren't laudable at all. I know some here think her choices shouldn't be discussed in any way, and they may be right. What I do know is that they shouldn't be discussed only in a positive light, especially if they are to be used as a bludgeon to remove the choice of others to act differently.
posted by grouse at 7:58 AM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


If a member called another female member on the site a cunt or a whore I think that would be an appropriate reason for a time out. The reason for that time out would not be because the target of the name-calling was subject to "high emotions," but because the person who used the language had insulted someone in an inappropriate way.

I think we're pretty much completely in agreement on this, yeah. I was pretty confused by your response to me last night, but knowing now where you were coming from and where you thought I was coming from I can see where it'd come from.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:59 AM on August 30, 2008


Come from come from come fromity from from. I also do a killer She Sells Sea Shells.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:05 AM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


And my judgment of those people would be that they are nosy, ignorant assholes.

Nosy? The subject is being brought up. No one is shooting off e-mails to strangers about this. If the connection to your personal life is what bothers you, than fine, but you're the one bringing up your personal life.

Ignorant of what? The people with Down's Syndrome can lead good lives? No one is; we're talking about a fetus, not a person with Down's. Saying you'd abort a fetus with Down's is not the same as saying you'd kill a person with it, or that that person is worthless.

As for asshole, maybe, but it's no worse than your behavior in this thread.
posted by spaltavian at 9:47 AM on August 30, 2008


To be fair, this is a candidate who has decided she should have the right to tell other women they do not have the option to choose an abortion. If her reproductive choices are the subject of criticism and taunt, it is because she has eagerly put them on the table by holding herself up as some kind of example. No words that can be used against her match the action she would take were she given the opportunity.

And really, next time express your views like everyone else in the original thread, rather than opening up a new one; this reeks of the same kind of spastic attention-getting McCain is going for by picking Palin in the first place. The points you make in this post have been made better and by better people in the original conversation. I and many people here have great appreciation for those who can present an opposing view with some degree of intelligence and class.
posted by troybob at 9:50 AM on August 30, 2008


... this reeks of the same kind of spastic attention-getting... The points you make in this post have been made better and by better people in the original conversation. I and many people here have great appreciation for those who can present an opposing view with some degree of intelligence and class...

Stay classy, troybob.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:55 AM on August 30, 2008


I won't be voting for McCain/Palin. I just don't like to see a woman in this position questioned about the choices she's made about her family.

Word.

What would be saying if it were Palin's husband running for VP? His 44 yr. old wife who just had a baby wouldn't come into play at *all.* Perhaps his stance on abortion would be relevant, but no one would be using his family as a point of attack. We should use the same standards for Palin herself. Her opinions, and her stance as anti-choice, are relevant. Her family is not.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:03 AM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


What would be saying if it were Palin's husband running for VP? His 44 yr. old wife who just had a baby wouldn't come into play at *all.* Perhaps his stance on abortion would be relevant, but no one would be using his family as a point of attack.

They would, and would be justified in doing so, if he held up his family up as some kind of standard against which others should live their lives. Palin's and the party aren't discussing Palin's reproductive history as a point of interest; it's intended to be an illustration entered as evidence for the appropriateness of a political position that she would like to inflict on other women in the same situation. Palin has held her own personal situation up for scrutiny; she should have no expectation that only good things will be said in response.

It's funny how this particular element echoes the cynicism of her nomination. Just as McCain has put her in the position hoping it will be difficult for the opposition to criticize a woman without seeming sexist, she throws her uterus up on a power-point slide to make it more difficult to criticize her position on abortion without seeming to attack her personal choices.

There's been some confidence expressed that pro-Clinton women wouldn't shift support to McCain just because there's a woman on the ticket. But if people are so willing to eat up, without smelling it, the way McCain is playing the Democratic values game here (the way old Bush did back with the Clarence Thomas nomination), that might have been overly optimistic.
posted by troybob at 10:23 AM on August 30, 2008


Ignorant of what? The people with Down's Syndrome can lead good lives? No one is; we're talking about a fetus, not a person with Down's. Saying you'd abort a fetus with Down's is not the same as saying you'd kill a person with it, or that that person is worthless.

I dunno. Isn't that basic argument what is rightly used by feminists when combatting the practice of selectively aborting female fetuses in places like South Asia?
posted by Rumple at 10:38 AM on August 30, 2008


Isn't that basic argument what is rightly used by feminists when combatting the practice of selectively aborting female fetuses in places like South Asia?

If one buys into the idea that Down syndrome or no Down syndrome is the same as male or female or brown eyes or green eyes.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:37 AM on August 30, 2008


Can just say how glad I am that bugbread seems to be active on the site again? Of anyones comments, his are the most reasoned and measured.
posted by Catfry at 11:56 AM on August 30, 2008


she throws her uterus up on a power-point slide to make it more difficult to criticize her position on abortion without seeming to attack her personal choices.

Troybob, look, the posts I questioned said nothing about Palin's policy positions or the possibility of her exploiting her personal situation in a public campaign. The only thing they did was criticize her personal decision to have a baby at 44. Even zardoz's clarification said explicitly that that choice is reason to question her judgment--and still failed to tie it to any public action on her part.

If a 44-year-old pro-choice woman ran for office after having recently terminated a pregnancy, and a metafilter commenter said essentially "she had an abortion because that's what heathens do," making no comment on her public policy or experience, I suspect the comment would have been deleted. Maybe I'm wrong. But that's the specific etiquette point I brought to metatalk.

I finally finished that 950-post thread--wow--and you are right that other posters made excellent points on the larger issue. This one, for starters. And I don't doubt those posters may possess more intelligence and class than I do, as you say. :) I'll leave it there.
posted by torticat at 12:37 PM on August 30, 2008


jack-mo, I have known people with Down's Syndrome and their families. The other siblings resented the hell out of the attention and resources the Down's Syndrome kid got.

They call it a birth defect for a reason.
posted by QIbHom at 12:39 PM on August 30, 2008


I dunno. Isn't that basic argument what is rightly used by feminists when combatting the practice of selectively aborting female fetuses in places like South Asia?

Sure, it's the same argument, but I wouldn't say "rightly". The problem there is that there is a culture that values women so little they don't want any more, not the selective abortion itself. (Also, I suspect many of those selective abortions come from the pressures/demands of husbands, fathers, etc, not the woman's choice.)

If you want or don't care that a child has Down's Syndrome- and that's a crude way to put it, but it's the core point- than sure, don't have an abortion- if you can handle the extra parenting that comes with it.

But I don't see how it is "beyond sick" to think that generally, it's a better call to abort a fetus with Down's Syndrome. (Assuming you're pro-choice. If you're pro-life, (generally) all abortions are beyond sick.)
posted by spaltavian at 12:55 PM on August 30, 2008


I reserve the right to make unfair snap judgments about everything and anyone.

But I'm also smart enough not to air them on MetaFilter.

At least, I TRY not to.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:49 PM on August 30, 2008


...the posts I questioned said nothing about Palin's policy positions or the possibility of her exploiting her personal situation in a public campaign. The only thing they did was criticize her personal decision to have a baby at 44.

And I don't see what is wrong with that, considering that she herself has introduced her childbearing history into the political conversation. Not only that, there have been a lot of complimentary things said about the fact that she had a baby at 44 and did not let it affect her job (e.g., she showed up to work three days after delivery). I don't get why you think she should be able to open this up as a topic of conversation in order to make herself look better to a certain demographic, and then not be scrutinized for what she is willingly telling us about herself. We're to be chided because we don't honor her (what I would judge very cynical) PR intentions and play the game only to the degree that she would prefer?

I guess more than anything, what bothered me about this reaction to it is how it plays into the Republican strategy. If there's anything Republicans enjoy more than decrying others' claims of victimization and oppression, it's being able to claim victimization and oppression for themselves. That which we call misogyny is not really the same thing when the party intertwines this woman's politics and her sex in such a way that criticism of one is to be interpreted as an attack on the other. What I find interesting about it is that they are setting it up so they can exploit her role as victim of the process, which I think says a lot about their current definition of 'a woman's place.'

If a 44-year-old pro-choice woman ran for office after having recently terminated a pregnancy, and a metafilter commenter said essentially "she had an abortion because that's what heathens do," making no comment on her public policy or experience, I suspect the comment would have been deleted.

I suspect it would not, and it shouldn't--particularly if that 44-year-old pro-choice woman were saying 'hey, i got an abortion, ain't i great?'. It is an opinion and not an etiquette issue. It's actually a useful comment because--as with many of the posts in the original thread in question here--it says more about the person making the comment than it does about the person being discussed.

And to clarify: I wasn't commenting on your own intelligence or class, just stating (particularly in light of dawson's whinings) that posts with those qualities do gain the ear and respect of people with opposing views; the comment was intended to rebuke the idea that there is an intolerance here to opposing viewpoints such that they need some extra accommodation (e.g., a MetaTalk topic). I made the statement because there is not an etiquette issue here at all; the issue seems more than you don't like what people are saying, and you don't think they should be able to say it, but rather than keeping that debate within the thread itself and argue it on level ground with every one else there, you opened up a backdoor topic to give extra notice to your point of view--a point of view that was not lacking in the original thread and which there was no reason you could not successfully promote, as appropriate, in that forum.
posted by troybob at 1:52 PM on August 30, 2008


jack-mo, I have known people with Down's Syndrome and their families. The other siblings resented the hell out of the attention and resources the Down's Syndrome kid got.

They call it a birth defect for a reason.


Are you honestly saying that (please correct me if I'm wrong), a fetus with Down's Syndrome should be aborted because the child's siblings will resent him/her? Honestly?
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:57 PM on August 30, 2008


I don't get why you think she should be able to open this up as a topic of conversation in order to make herself look better to a certain demographic, and then not be scrutinized for what she is willingly telling us about herself.

If this was a case of rank hypocrisy then, yes, the choices should absolutely be criticized. If she had aborted a child herself but wanted to legislate away other women's right to choose, yes. Instead we have people criticizing her choices because they find them personally objectionable. It is as if she brought up her body in some way in the race (she was a cancer survivor, made a big deal about personal fitness, anything) and you take that as license to say "I'd hit it" as a legitimate and meaningful political position. "Well SHE brought up her body!"

I don't think anybody is saying that her personal choices should be completely off the table and never be discussed—again, if there is hypocrisy then jump on that shit. The problem is that a lot of the comments are just personal morality shots and are completely antithetical to smart, pro-choice, pro–body sovereignty politics.
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:10 PM on August 30, 2008


Yeah, there were personal morality shots, but criticizing 'her personal decision to have a baby at 44' does not fall into that category when that decision is being sold to the public as somehow courageous and noble (not to mention having the scent of 'she's a real woman, doing what a woman should do--having babies').

I personally don't like the MILF/VPILF aspect of it, if that's what you mean. Again, I think posters who make comments like that make it all that much easier to clue you in on ignoring pretty much anything else they say. But even those comments open up relevant questions: Do you think Palin, a former beauty pageant contestant, has not consciously used her physical appearance as a political tool? Do you think she and the party leadership have not calculated to four decimal places how much benefit they can expect not only from her personal appearance and for these kinds of labels being placed on her, but also from their feigned shock over such?
posted by troybob at 2:23 PM on August 30, 2008


poor metafilter. i can't really even qualify that statement. poor metafilter.
posted by punkbitch at 3:43 PM on August 30, 2008


I don't think anybody is saying that her personal choices should be completely off the table and never be discussed—again, if there is hypocrisy then jump on that shit. The problem is that a lot of the comments are just personal morality shots and are completely antithetical to smart, pro-choice, pro–body sovereignty politics.

You can't have it both ways. If she's a hypocrite — and she may be in a position to legislate that hypocrisy on everyone — then it needs to get called out now, regardless of if it might seem to be a "morality shot", whatever that means.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:48 PM on August 30, 2008


Let me put it this way. Elizabeth Edwards, following a horrible family tragedy, bore her last two children when she was 48 and 50. Was this ever, ever brought up as a reason to question John Edwards's judgment, or their decision considered relevant to his ability to govern?

That is why I think misogyny enters into this. There IS a double standard here. Palin's choices in this area are her own and ought to be left alone.
posted by torticat at 4:11 PM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I never realized Metafilter was a hotbed of neo-eugenicists.
posted by Falconetti at 4:36 PM on August 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


Was this ever, ever brought up as a reason to question John Edwards's judgment, or their decision considered relevant to his ability to govern?

I'm not aware that John Edwards ever used his office to threaten the freedom of any pregnant woman, over the health of her developing fetus.

Before you introduce John Edwards as a counterexample, can you cite how his legislative actions and morals make him comparable with Palin's contradictory legislative actions and seeming lack of morality or even common sense, with respect to managing the health of her own fetus?

Because, otherwise, you do not have a double standard, you have a strawman. And Edwards, whatever his faults, is no strawman to debase by equating him with Palin.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:03 PM on August 30, 2008


Catfry:

Thanks, but it probably won't last long. I was a work MeFite (used to have a very liberal internet policy). At home, I was always too busy to read MeFi. Then work cracked down, hence my disappearance. The only reason I'm on now is because I have a cold, so I'm at home with nothing to do.

I do miss MeFi, though. Damn the new company internet policy!
posted by Bugbread at 5:30 PM on August 30, 2008


Before you introduce John Edwards as a counterexample, can you cite how his legislative actions and morals make him comparable with Palin's contradictory legislative actions

I have no need to. The posts I called out, with some changes to pronouns, etc., could equally have been written about John Edwards (but weren't). The posts said nothing about legislative actions or Palin's imposing her beliefs on others or anything else that might be relevant to governing: they simply attacked her personal choice to have a child at age 44.

I consider that off-the-charts "none of our business" territory, and think most people would agree if a similar denigrating argument about his "judgment" had been made about John Edwards.

The rest of all that, you're bringing into the discussion, and it's not relevant to these particular posts.

As to the suggestion that Palin's flying at 36 weeks pregnant shows a seeming lack of morality, holy shit. I have no response to that.
posted by torticat at 5:38 PM on August 30, 2008


bugbread, let me know if you want me to put in a word with your bosses. I can probably get you fired if you'd like.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:41 PM on August 30, 2008


If the standard is what is 'relevant to one's ability to govern,' I find it hard to appreciate a charge of misogyny. All candidates, regardless of sex, are subject to criticism over any number of personal decisions and details, even unfounded, that have nothing to do with the ability to govern. It's not as if the press backed off John Edwards' affair because he is a man.

If Elizabeth Edwards were running for office and tried to score political points by talking about how she had kids at 48 and 50, she opens it up for discussion. Not only that, but if she were running for office, she would be advised that any aspect of her life is open for discussion. It's not a sexist thing; men are told this as well. The fact that she has a uterus and a man does not is incidental; if Obama were discovered to have a prostate that resembles the Virgin Mary, we'd never hear the end of it.
posted by troybob at 5:47 PM on August 30, 2008


Yes, everything is "open for discussion." It's a free country. Just because one has the legal right to discuss something does not mean one is not revealing oneself to be a jerk if one exercises that right.
posted by languagehat at 5:56 PM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]



Let me put it this way. Elizabeth Edwards, following a horrible family tragedy, bore her last two children when she was 48 and 50. Was this ever, ever brought up as a reason to question John Edwards's judgment, or their decision considered relevant to his ability to govern?

That is why I think misogyny enters into this. There IS a double standard here. Palin's choices in this area are her own and ought to be left alone.


For it to be misogyny, wouldn't the criticism have to be against all women?

Of course.

That's because this isn't misogyny, it's misoPaliny. She is the issue, not her sex.
posted by gjc at 6:15 PM on August 30, 2008


I never realized Metafilter was a hotbed of neo-eugenicists.

Not just Metafilter. I did some reading earlier and found several studies (US and Europe) indicating ~90% of prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome lead to a decision to abort.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:18 PM on August 30, 2008


The posts I called out, with some changes to pronouns, etc., could equally have been written about John Edwards (but weren't).

John Edwards has nothing to do with the hypocrisy of Palin endangering the health of her fetus and her pursuit and enacting of laws that punish other women for doing the very same thing.

And it's kind of disgusting to try to bring him down by involving him in this discussion, frankly, since Edwards is nowhere near as hypocritical as Palin where women's rights are concerned.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:19 PM on August 30, 2008


Yeah, the whole ablist nonsense running around in this thread is pretty appalling. A lot of the posters advocating the abortion of children with downs syndrome read like people who've never talked to or read anything by a self-advocate. As a general rule: people with [insert disability here] are capable of talking about themselves and their lives, don't need uninformed able-bodied people to decide that their lives are not worth living, and, in fact, tend to argue the opposite. Until you take the time to listen to what the actual people have to say, you are uninformed and speaking from a place of unexamined privilege. When that leads you to propose a bit of eugenics as morally right, that's a rather nasty thing.

HTH.
posted by Arturus at 6:30 PM on August 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Heh, relevant to the general legality of abortion debate, I found I had another paper still open in another window. A small study in Uruguay found, again, ~90% abortion rates after a prenatal Downs syndrome diagnosis.

Abortion is illegal in Uruguay.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:31 PM on August 30, 2008


Also, anyone opposed to the accepted practices of advising pregnant women to avoid alcohol and tobacco to prevent sundry birth defects including the cognitive, or of giving antivirals to HIV-positive mothers to prevent the transmission of the virus to the child?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:35 PM on August 30, 2008


First of all, Eideteker, I was about to say that–but seriously? Trebuchet? No when to say when.

jonmc, i would like to subscribe to your newsletter. Also, please ask Handsome Dick if he has an opinion on the NL east race.
posted by Mister_A at 6:49 PM on August 30, 2008


Are mods still, erm, monitoring 'that' thread? Some uncalled for and nasty personal attacks there. I'd suggest getting rid of the 'help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site' or the some of the comments. And yes I know the whole thing is an unwanted nightmare for the mods.
I am sorry.
posted by dawson at 6:59 PM on August 30, 2008


While I don't think it's necessarily a deletable offense to do so, I don't go in for judging women's reproductive decisions. It's a road I'll never walk, so I don't presume to know what's best.

I think it's odd, though, that there seems to be an air of admiration for the fact that Palin did not have an abortion. If she doesn't believe in choice, why should she be admired for making the 'right' one? It seems akin to praising the Pope for never abusing his girlfriends.
posted by troybob at 7:07 PM on August 30, 2008


dawson, feel free to use the flag queue. We're still keeping an eye on it, but it is Saturday night in most of the US. If something egregious is going on you can always send mail through the contact form as well.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:09 PM on August 30, 2008


sorry jessamyn, I did flag them, but lost my temper a bit I suppose. you might want to delete my last comment in that thread, I should have mailed ericb and not responded in the thread.
I'll mail you guys next time.
posted by dawson at 7:18 PM on August 30, 2008


flagged my own comment there, my #9
posted by dawson at 7:22 PM on August 30, 2008


Not just Metafilter. I did some reading earlier and found several studies (US and Europe) indicating ~90% of prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome lead to a decision to abort.

A personal decision is different than advocating that people should abort fetuses with Downs Syndrome.
posted by Falconetti at 7:23 PM on August 30, 2008


I'm sorry, but this is really bugging me: It's Down Syndrome. Not Down's or Downs.
posted by amro at 7:30 PM on August 30, 2008


Hey, don't be downs on everybody's terminology...
posted by troybob at 7:33 PM on August 30, 2008


If Elizabeth Edwards were running for office and tried to score political points by talking about how she had kids at 48 and 50, she opens it up for discussion.

troybob, they did exactly that. The Edwardses, I mean. Okay, she wasn't the one running for office but the point stands. Did you miss how the whole compelling family history was very much a part of the John Edwards story?? How Elizabeth was admired for making the sacrifices and choices she did at that point in her life, and John for being such a devoted father, following the tragedy they'd undergone?

Palin herself has not (so far) made her choice about her last child any more a highlight of her "qualifications" for public office than Edwards did. It's part of her story, yes, but no more than it was part of Edwards's.

The candidates' other political views are irrelevant to the choices they've made in their own lives about childbearing--as I've said over and over. Unless hypocrisy is involved, but that's not the case here. Debate Palin's anti-choice views if you like. That is unrelated to the issue, or the posts, that I called out.

Let me go back again to something you said earlier:
she throws her uterus up on a power-point slide to make it more difficult to criticize her position on abortion without seeming to attack her personal choices.

This would suggest that you think attacking her personal choices is something to be avoided. If so, I agree. That very narrow point is what my callout was about.

gyc: I take your point. I actually believe the thinking I've complained of could be misogynistic at root, but is not necessarily so. And the fact that Elizabeth Edwards is one of the most admired women in America supports your point.

So, yeah. There's a lot more going on.
posted by torticat at 7:36 PM on August 30, 2008


TheOnlyCoolTim writes "Not just Metafilter. I did some reading earlier and found several studies (US and Europe) indicating ~90% of prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome lead to a decision to abort."

I'm surprised it's that low. Presumably the people who wouldn't abort don't bother getting tested so 10% is just the people who changed their mind afterwards.
posted by Mitheral at 8:39 PM on August 30, 2008


I feel really weird to be both Pro-choice but also anti-abort-because-it's-not-perfect.

I suppose where I feel strongly is that it is a choice, but that the chooser shouldn't be pressured just because the child isn't "perfect." I can also see myself making that choice and being ok with it, but I can't FATHOM anyone saying that Trisomy babies should have been aborted on the basis that they're...trisomy babies.

I'm confused about people who think folks with Trisomy suffer---I've had the privilege of working with dozens of these folks from infants to the elderly, and honestly I'd prefer to work with a LOT of them than some of the folks who have posted in this thread. As much as you can classify any MD/DD population, they're generally happy, kind, giving, and very very loving.

And, for you Eugenecists in the crowd---individuals with Trisomy are sterile by default---so you needn't worry about your gene pool; but I'd like to point you to the ladder so you can get out of mine.
posted by TomMelee at 9:14 PM on August 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


There are lots of reasons to get either the triple blood test that tests for Down syndrome or getting an amnio, even if you're not sure you will abort if your child has something bad. For some women it can be like testing for the sex of the baby -- you want to be prepared for whatever happens. For others, they may not have made a decision about abortion before the testing -- why cross that road if it's not necessary, but maybe it is something you would consider. Finally, I don't think Down syndrome is the only thing these tests check for, and there could be other abnormalities that you might want to know about but which might not be that serious. I think someone upthread also mentioned spina bifida, which requires surgery in utero.

May I note that it is seriously icking me out to hear a bunch of dudes in this thread discussing their certainty that a woman getting these tests must already be 100 percent sure she'd want an abortion if she's even bothering to get a test. You don't seem to have any personal knowledge of this issue, and from my experience you have no idea what you're talking about.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:49 PM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Okay, she wasn't the one running for office but the point stands.

No, the point doesn't stand. In fact, it is insulting to everyone's intelligence that you try to divert the topic of Palin's hypocrisy by repeatedly introducing the Edwards family into this discussion, where it has no place.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:51 PM on August 30, 2008


And with that, the MetaTalk callout of the Sarah Palin thread matched the Barack Obama acceptance speech thread in number of posts, concluding a tortoise-hare race that I had been watching with great anticipation.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:52 PM on August 30, 2008


John Edwards has nothing to do with the hypocrisy of Palin endangering the health of her fetus and her pursuit and enacting of laws that punish other women for doing the very same thing.

Right. Those Alaskan initiatives we're all so familiar with, wherein Gov Palin endorsed mandatory bedrest for all working women in their last month of pregnancy. Oh, or were you talking about abortion? And how that endangers the health of a fetus? What ARE you talking about?

And it's kind of disgusting to try to bring him down by involving him in this discussion, frankly, since Edwards is nowhere near as hypocritical as Palin where women's rights are concerned.

Honestly, "hypocritical"?? You can disagree with her stance on abortion, but she's done exactly what she expects others to do. Under not-so-easy circumstances, to say the least. So okay, she opposes the idea of terminating any pregnancy, and you think that should be a private matter, on which any individual woman should have the final say. Palin, a state governor, chooses to board an airplane while in the late stages of pregnancy, so that she can give a scheduled speech, and consulting with her doctor along the way, and you call her actions immoral. And hypocritical.

Ooookay.

On preview, I introduced the Edwards situation because the personal choice is identical, except that Elizabeth Edwards was older when she and her husband made theirs. The callout is about this, and nothing more: The relevance to the capacity to govern of a candidate's personal choice to have a child at whatever age. I don't personally believe Palin is qualified to be VP. And I think her choice to bear a child at age 44 has fuck-all to do with it.
posted by torticat at 10:18 PM on August 30, 2008


I'm sorry, but this is really bugging me: It's Down Syndrome. Not Down's or Downs.

I'll leave it up to you to correct these guys, then.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:25 PM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


onlyconnect writes "There are lots of reasons to get either the triple blood test that tests for Down syndrome or getting an amnio, even if you're not sure you will abort if your child has something bad. For some women it can be like testing for the sex of the baby -- you want to be prepared for whatever happens. For others, they may not have made a decision about abortion before the testing -- why cross that road if it's not necessary, but maybe it is something you would consider. Finally, I don't think Down syndrome is the only thing these tests check for, and there could be other abnormalities that you might want to know about but which might not be that serious. I think someone upthread also mentioned spina bifida, which requires surgery in utero."

Sure. I'm still surprised that rises to the level of 10%. Especially with a condition like Down Syndrome which disproportionately afflicts children of older parents. The kids potentially require, an admittedly shortened, lifetime of care. It's got to be tough to bring a child into the world that you know could need that care also knowing there is a good chance you won't be able to provide it.

Part of my surprise may be because of US-Canadian differences. Seems like US physicians proscribe a lot more tests than Canadian physicians. (EG: Canadians do not routinely get more than one ultra-sound). I don't know of anyone who got a triple test without being at risk for a specific condition that it tests for. And I'd imagine the number of people who run the test for Edward's Syndrome and get a bingo on Down are vanishingly rare.

onlyconnect writes "it is seriously icking me out to hear a bunch of dudes in this thread discussing their certainty that a woman getting these tests must already be 100 percent sure she'd want an abortion if she's even bothering to get a test. You don't seem to have any personal knowledge of this issue, and from my experience you have no idea what you're talking about."

Ya, 'cause if you don't have a uterus you couldn't possibly know the pain of carrying genes for Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome and having to decide whether to test for an occurrence or play Russian roulette1 with the future health and life of your child. Or even whether to attempt to have a healthy baby at all or just go out and get sterilized. Or any other autosomal recessive conditions for that matter.

What is your experience in this matter anyways? Genetic testing councillor? Birthright/PP volunteer?

[1] worse than Russian roulette. If both parents are carriers the chance is 1 in 4 and a revolver has 5-7 chambers
posted by Mitheral at 8:04 AM on August 31, 2008


I think Palin made an irresponsible and hypocritical choice, based on silly religious beliefs rather than logic, rationality or the welfare of the rest of her family.

This makes me a neo-eugenicist and a misogenist? My. What would I do without all of you to extrapolate from miniscule amounts of data?
posted by QIbHom at 8:33 AM on August 31, 2008


I'm sorry, but this is really bugging me: It's Down Syndrome. Not Down's or Downs.

Well, let's see what the latest edition of the AMA Manual of Style says. Ah, here we are: 13.2 (page 470), Possessive form: "There is continuing debate over the use of the possessive form; however, a transition toward the nonpossessive form may be gradually taking place, as illustrated by the change from Down's to Down syndrome. The National Down Syndrome Society advocates the use of Down syndrome, arguing that the syndrome does not actually belong to anyone. Some dictionaries may list Down's syndrome as a primary or variant entry, but [various dictionaries] have dropped the possessive... Dorland's continues to show the possessive form for many eponymous terms, reflecting perceived current usage..." They end up recommending the nonpossessive form, but that's hardly what I call laying down the law.

But let's say they did. Let's say you were able to point triumphantly to a firm AMA injunction "Use Down syndrome! DO NOT use Down's syndrome! It's bad!!" So fucking what? Them and what army are going to make us use a particular form? People will use whatever phrase they prefer, and there's nothing you or the AMA can do about it. The only thing you can do something about is your attitude; you can choose to embrace being bugged or try to get past it. I recommend the latter, because it's really not that big a deal.
posted by languagehat at 9:56 AM on August 31, 2008


I think Palin made an irresponsible and hypocritical choice, based on silly religious beliefs rather than logic, rationality or the welfare of the rest of her family.

This makes me a neo-eugenicist and a misogenist?


No, it makes you someone who makes foolish and ungenerous assumptions about other people's choices about the most intimate aspects of their lives, which have nothing whatever to do with you. It puts you on a level with people who make random comments about what they consider the probable personal habits of women they see on the street. But no, it doesn't make you a neo-eugenicist. Congratulations. (Incidentally, if you want to spell according to Webster's, it's misogyny.)
posted by languagehat at 9:59 AM on August 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


it's really not that big a deal...
Spelling is, of course, a big deal when you can use it to score cheap points in a snide throwaway parenthetical.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:16 AM on August 31, 2008


The only thing you can do something about is your attitude; you can choose to embrace being bugged or try to get past it. I recommend the latter, because it's really not that big a deal.

I'm not the one typing paragraphs out of the AMA onto a website on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
posted by amro at 11:20 AM on August 31, 2008


Er, Sunday. Labor Day has me all messed up.
posted by amro at 11:20 AM on August 31, 2008


I'm not the one typing paragraphs out of the AMA onto a website on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

The work of moments for LH, I'm sure.
posted by voltairemodern at 12:16 PM on August 31, 2008


Don't remind me I'm stuck here at my desk on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, dammit.

Spelling is, of course, a big deal when you can use it to score cheap points in a snide throwaway parenthetical.

I'm sorry if it came across that way. I was actually trying to alert QIbHom to the fact that the spelling "misogenist" is not officially approved, without saying "you're wrongety wrong wrong" (note my phrasing "if you want to spell according to Webster's," not "if you want to spell correctly") because I thought QIbHom might want to know, in the same way one wants to know one's zipper is down. Surely no one thinks I am one to be snooty about "correct" spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
posted by languagehat at 12:57 PM on August 31, 2008


I don't know if I agree, languagehat. "misogenist" is surely an acceptable spelling for somebody who hates genes.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:03 PM on August 31, 2008


Curses, foiled again!
posted by languagehat at 2:34 PM on August 31, 2008


Haha, Languagehat -- reminding me of earlier spirited discussions...

Back on topic (sort of): it's beyond me what the fuss is about with women bearing children after 35. I've heard from college classmates and other women who are still having children on into age 40, and as I mentioned in that other thread, they've been doing it since Rosalyn Carter and before...
In the hypothetical case of a woman who's tried without success to naturally become a parent, yet holding the means and desire to support a child with no care to whether s/he'll have Down S': suppose pregnancy results finally, yet mother is in early 40s and in fact the child's prognosis is 'deformed.' Am I going to stop her now and deem her long-sought choice for carrying to term 'unfit' though I see she would make a terrific mother, compared to plenty of physically unchallenged but irresponsible parents I've seen who seem 'unfit'? The desire to parent and to give selflessly can transcend qualms about the quality of a child's health, given the numerous examples out there of how health issues needn't impede the quality of a child's life.

Advancements in pre-birth diagnosis have developed hand-in-hand with enhancements to assure the thriving and well-being of those enduring handicaps of all kinds, not to mention attitudes have evolved that let them be embraced in society, albeit with some struggle that perhaps will never be completely absent from our challenged brothers and sisters. Non-profits like the workshop where my dad works testify to this, and a local restaurant has successfully integrated persons with disabilities so that functioning fully in the workplace is a reality now, whereas decades ago it was a mere pipe dream.

Who was it who said something to the effect that, it'll be a welcome day when we can have an environment in which such disabilities may flourish, rather than one where the preference is to purge them like an unsightly blemish? Its point was to try to adapt ourselves to the benefit of those marginalized few, rather than look forward to the day we can eradicate their presence altogether -- or as some would suggest, 'nip them in the bud.' It isn't a choice unless it's, as upthread was mentioned, allowed in either direction.
posted by skyper at 3:55 PM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


..."misogenist" is surely an acceptable spelling for somebody who hates genes.

So folks like me, who hate their own genes would be automisogenists?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:20 PM on August 31, 2008


yes, either that, or people who make their own miso.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:26 PM on August 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Do these genes make me look fat?" - Tori Spelling
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:34 PM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Skyper: your thoughts?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:36 PM on August 31, 2008


Ubu, you made miso very happy.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:43 PM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]




thanks, flapjax, udon know how much that means to me.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:52 PM on August 31, 2008


Okay, mandymanwasregistered, we get it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:56 PM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


The_Only_Cool_Tim: This?
anyone opposed to the accepted practices of advising pregnant women to avoid alcohol and tobacco to prevent sundry birth defects including the cognitive, or of giving antivirals to HIV-positive mothers to prevent the transmission of the virus to the child?

If you're equating the willingness to abstain from alcohol/drugs on behalf of increasing an unborn child's chances of being born healthy, with the decision that an unborn child diagnosed with Down is not worth delivering, then our thoughts diverge here. I'm not sure if you're comparing your mention above with a.) gambling on one's childbearing age (35+) that one's child will prove wholly healthy, or b.) taking the option of going ahead and bearing the child one *knows* will struggle with an irreversible health condition. You perhaps see hypocrisy in holding to both sentiments, if I'm reading you correctly, but I do not.

I don't feel the effort to prevent disabilities resulting from toxic diet/vice choices, and the willingness to carry to term, raise and nourish a child whose development resulted not from such choices but from a genetic flaw -- are mutually exclusive. My acquaintance with those who became mothers at middle age, both from college-days and from around the neighborhood (as well as countries visited overseas whose families not only accept but in some cases fetishize disfiguring or disabling disease) informs my opinion that a child born with an extra burden is something many parents come to terms with to the extent they are willing and able.
If not willing nor able, there's a choice for the one who is carrying. I didn't mean to suggest because *some do* opt for the challenge of such a child, that *all should*, and I hope that's not how I came across.
The issue with Palin seems to be the converse, that because she 'can' then all expectant mothers 'should'... and while I don't find fault with her own personal decision, I do question the tactic of politicizing it, yes.
posted by skyper at 5:08 PM on August 31, 2008


I'm not sure if you're comparing your mention above with a.) gambling on one's childbearing age (35+) that one's child will prove wholly healthy, or b.) taking the option of going ahead and bearing the child one *knows* will struggle with an irreversible health condition. You perhaps see hypocrisy in holding to both sentiments, if I'm reading you correctly, but I do not.

Mostly (b) - I view the modern technologies as enabling childbearing at 35+ without a gamble on chromosomal abnormalities.

If you're equating the willingness to abstain from alcohol/drugs on behalf of increasing an unborn child's chances of being born healthy, with the decision that an unborn child diagnosed with Down is not worth delivering, then our thoughts diverge here.

I equate the willingness to abstain from alcohol to negate the risk of FASD in one's child with the willingness to take antiviral drugs to reduce the risk of HIV infection in one's child (an "active" rather than a "passive" choice like teetotaling, as this sort of distinction was maybe of some importance to some people in the last reproduction Metatalk) with the willingness to obtain an abortion to greatly reduce* the risk of Down syndrome in one's child.

*Negate, if testing were universal and error-free. A brief search did not find me the false-negative rates of amniocentesis.

The difference I see (assuming pro-choice or pro-abortion viewpoints) between the first two and the third is that the last requires trying again if a child is still desired. I guess change it to "willingness to get an abortion and try again" in this case. Not trivial matters, but neither is choosing to give a child Down syndrome.

This might not work out for a hypothetical borderline-infertile woman. Shitty situation, but there are other alternatives to have a child and I view the MUST HAVE BIOLOGICAL BABBIES MUST SPREAD GENES impulse rather negatively in both sexes.

Does advocating the use of antivirals to prevent the birth of a child with HIV imply that people currently living with HIV are subhuman, incapable of quality of life, less worthwhile, etc.? Does advocating that HIV-positive pregnant women ought to take antivirals impinge upon their medical, body, or reproductive sovereignty? If not, why are these issues with advocating the use of abortion to prevent the birth of a child with Down syndrome?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:48 PM on August 31, 2008


Not trivial matters, but neither is choosing to give a child Down syndrome.

First, nobody chooses to give a child Down syndrome. This sort of statement is what folks were talking about upthread, re the behavior of blaming the parents for their genetically imperfect child. Is that really where we want to go? Should we also blame parents when their babies aren't cute enough?

Second, just because you do everything you can to improve the chance of a healthy birth for your embryo/fetus does not mean that if an when you find out it's not totally healthy or normal -- as this culture so defines "healthy" and "normal" -- that the next logical choice is abortion. Even if you might choose to do what you can to make your baby healthy, once you find out your fetus is different, it doesn't mean that the next step in trying to make your baby healthy is choosing to kill it.

What I've particularly liked in this thread is the folks (who as far as their own posts show have not had to deal with this decision) who have said that in such cases choosing abortion is the best thing for the child. As if given the choice, the embryo with Down syndrome would choose death over a life with Down syndrome. I understand why parents might choose to abort -- because they worry they are not ready to take care of children with special needs, because of the pressures such a child might put on their marriage/relationship, because of the great effect such a child might have on their lives, etc. I understand the abortion decision being made for the lives of the parents who aren't ready or able to take on the responsibilities of a special needs child. I personally disagree with folks who are saying the real reason to abort, in cases involving a mild genetic disorder, is for the feelings of the child. If I were given the Hobson's choice between life with a disability and no life at all, I personally would choose life with a disability.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:38 AM on September 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


First, nobody chooses to give a child Down syndrome.

Nobody chooses to give an embryo Down syndrome. Roughly ten percent choose to give a child Down syndrome. It's a very foreseeable consequence of the choice to carry a diagnosed fetus to term.

I disagree that my arguments describe a quest for perfection to any greater degree than my alcohol example is a quest for perfection.

I'm quite comfortable using birth as the determining line for the moral existence of a child. Thusly, ensuring one's child isn't grown from a fetus damaged by genetic abnormality is pretty much the same as ensuring one's child isn't grown from a fetus damaged by alcohol or infected with HIV. So trying to make your baby healthy, to me, could involve killing a fetus and starting over. This is different from "killing it," to me, as I don't equate the embryo/fetus and the child in that way.

You seem to be, or seem close to, assigning personhood to the fetus. You can make that argument, but there are a lot of implications.

If I were given the Hobson's choice between life with a disability and no life at all, I personally would choose life with a disability.


"Potential life" arguments are weird. Personally, I don't have medical problems anywhere near as bad as Down syndrome, and still I wouldn't give a shit if I had been aborted, mostly because there would never be or have been a me to care. Furthermore, probably everyone here is making a choice between life and no life for many many potential children, as I don't think any of us are not working towards creating as many children as can be pumped out within human limits. Wouldn't these hypothetical future children also prefer life to no life?

It's also, in the general case of a fertile or not-too-infertile couple, not a choice between life with Downs and no life, but between life with Downs, life without Downs, and no life.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:43 PM on September 1, 2008


I'm quite comfortable using birth as the determining line for the moral existence of a child. Thusly, ensuring one's child isn't grown from a fetus damaged by genetic abnormality is pretty much the same as ensuring one's child isn't grown from a fetus damaged by alcohol or infected with HIV. So trying to make your baby healthy, to me, could involve killing a fetus and starting over.

TheOnlyCoolTim, you seem to be assuming that there are a finite number of babies assigned to each couple, as if couples basically get one shot, and if their fetus is abnormal, they must start over. But we're not in China, and the government doesn't so limit the number of babies a couple can have. Once you have a fetus, you are making choices about whether or not to deliver that fetus to term. You can do everything possible -- prenatal vitamins, abstaining from alcohol and caffeine, etc -- to make sure that fetus will be healthy. But once you have a fetus, let's not pretend that fetus magically disappears by clicking your heels at the abortion clinic. Abortion terminates the life of the fetus, which would otherwise be your child if grown to term. You can have a baby with Down syndrome and go on to have babies that are perfectly healthy. You do not have a limit of one child per customer.

Let's not pretend that there's no difference between a child that is not yet conceived vs. an embryo vs. a fetus. A child that is not yet conceived has no life and no body. If we really followed your argument to its logical conclusion, and an 8 month old fetus had no more rights than an unconceived embryo, then people could (and would) choose to abort their 8 month old fetus because it was the wrong sex, or had the wrong predicted eye color, or wasn't going to be tall enough to complete the couple's expected basketball team. But people don't do this, because such a late-term abortion where the life of the mother is not in danger is illegal in most states, and also because I think people themselves would have their own moral qualms with cutting off the life of something that was so close to independent life. Just as those sorts of qualms exist at 8 months, they exist for many at a lesser degree with a younger fetus. Even someone who is pro-abortion can struggle more over the moral implications of terminating a fetus than wearing a condom, and to suggest they are one and the same decision is to minimize the seriousness of the abortion decision, I think.

I am pro choice and understand why people might choose to abort a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome. I might make the same decision. But I have no misconceptions about why I would be doing it -- it would be for my convenience, and not to ensure the greater happiness of the fetus inside of me. I am an atheist, and believe this life is all we get. So terminating the life of a fetus would be a big deal. It's nice that you can argue that you "wouldn't give a shit" if you had been aborted, but I do not feel the same way. All things considered, I'd rather be alive, and if you asked the adult that resulted from a fetus with Down syndrome, I think they would say the same thing.
posted by onlyconnect at 5:42 PM on September 1, 2008


"But we're not in China, and the government doesn't so limit the number of babies a couple can have."

They only limit the number of babies citizens can keep without incurring extra costs. You can have all the kids you want, if you pay for them. Or, you can sell them to Americans.
posted by gjc at 6:01 PM on September 1, 2008


Or, you can sell them to Americans.
I'm really trying to not be contentious and easily offended this Labor Day weekend, but as someone who has been to China a number of times, has lived there, has friends there and who has adopted family from Asia, I find that rather disgusting and just wanted to register my disgust.
posted by dawson at 6:43 PM on September 1, 2008


Thank you for the spelling correction, Languagehat. I work hard to try to treat the English language with some respect.

As for the rest, I disagree. She's making her personal life substitute for political experience, education and intelligence. Therefore it is fair to judge her on it.

Not that she'll ever see that I think she is a self-centred, cruel bitch. Or that she would care what I think if she did.
posted by QIbHom at 8:49 PM on September 1, 2008


TheOnlyCoolTim, you seem to be assuming that there are a finite number of babies assigned to each couple, as if couples basically get one shot, and if their fetus is abnormal, they must start over.

Not so. I'm imagining a woman who wants to have a child, or two children, or n children and proposing the idea that this does not mean these children should necessarily be grown from the first embryo that shows up in each case, especially if that would result in severe health problems.

Abortion terminates the life of the fetus, which would otherwise be your child if grown to term.


"Life", even "human life" isn't what should be the concern, "human persons" are. Here's John Locke's definition, not to state that it is definitive but to provide the gist of the idea more eloquently than any I was coming up with: A person is "a thinking intelligent Being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing in different times and places; which it does only by that consciousness, which is inseparable from thinking, and as it seems to me essential to it".

Masturbation for men and menstruation for women terminate the life of the gametes, which would otherwise be their child if mixed together and carried to term. "This is not a person, but it could potentially become a person if I did X" doesn't make something a person. Cancer is genetically human life, yet we destroy it. An anencephalic fetus (formed without a brain, excepting some of the real low-level bits controlling plumbing such as heart and lungs) may be carried to term, born, and sometimes even live for a short period. It is independent human life, it even looks like a child, but it is not a person. Similarly a human after brain death is still biologically alive, but we consider the person dead and start harvesting the organs.

If we really followed your argument to its logical conclusion, and an 8 month old fetus had no more rights than an unconceived embryo, then people could (and would) choose to abort their 8 month old fetus because it was the wrong sex, or had the wrong predicted eye color, or wasn't going to be tall enough to complete the couple's expected basketball team. But people don't do this, because such a late-term abortion where the life of the mother is not in danger is illegal in most states...

I've been to that conclusion and way past it, and I would in general think these petty, venal choices, but I recognize the right and believe such decisions should be legal.

and also because I think people themselves would have their own moral qualms with cutting off the life of something that was so close to independent life. Just as those sorts of qualms exist at 8 months, they exist for many at a lesser degree with a younger fetus.

And I believe they should not have any moral qualms as the fetus is not a person.

So I definitely read you as arguing for the fetus as person with rights or at least quasi-person with quasi-rights. This is a belief, you can hold it, but I believe while it's around abortion rights will not be secure nor will abortion be destigmatized. If the Supreme Court had decided the fetus was a person, Roe v. Wade would have been decided the other way (though maybe it would have been better overall if shortly after some other case prompted the legalization of abortion without such a weaksauce mincing decision):

The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a "person" within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment.


I would not argue that the implications of believing the fetus is a person or quasi-person are, by themselves, a valid reason to say that the fetus is not, which would be hypocritical, but ... there it is. If the fetus is a person legal and moral arguments in favor of abortion are greatly weakened. They start involving conflicts between the rights of the fetus and the rights of the women and in my opinion get a lot more iffy.

I am pro choice and understand why people might choose to abort a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome. I might make the same decision. But I have no misconceptions about why I would be doing it -- it would be for my convenience, and not to ensure the greater happiness of the fetus inside of me.

Inasmuch as I intend that any pregnancies I will be responsible for will be well planned out jointly with the other party (or parties, should I find myself in either some real crazy hippie scene or something with gamete donors or a surrogate mother), including advance consideration of matters like this, I would plan to abort a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome or other very serious medical problems. This is would indeed result in less inconvenience or burden to me, but primarily I would do it health of the child. I don't care about the health or well-being of the fetus besides as precursors to the health and well-being of a child.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:35 PM on September 1, 2008


"Life", even "human life" isn't what should be the concern, "human persons" are. Here's John Locke's definition, not to state that it is definitive but to provide the gist of the idea more eloquently than any I was coming up with: A person is "a thinking intelligent Being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing in different times and places; which it does only by that consciousness, which is inseparable from thinking, and as it seems to me essential to it".
This is way too simplistic a definition if you bring it into an abortion debate. Babies do not have reason and reflection and do not see themselves as seperate from their mothers, but I do not assume you would say that killing babies would be okay because they are not yet "human persons"?

I can understand the argument that an eight week old fetus is just a mass of cells that you cannot ascribe personhood to, but at eight months you only have to cut an umbilical cord. This does not have anything to do with a women's right to her own body anymore, because she'll have to give birth anyway, it is the only way to "get rid of" the fetus.
posted by davar at 12:18 AM on September 2, 2008


"Babies do not have reason and reflection and do not see themselves as seperate from their mothers, but I do not assume you would say that killing babies would be okay because they are not yet "human persons"?"

It's the Peter Singer argument, and one that I find compelling, honestly. I mean, I realize that I'd have a damn hard time thinking about it in the specifics, or, you know, tossing my own kid off Taygetus, but if you're not going to argue from sympathetic emotion regarding human rights or human value, I think that you have to have some idea of why human life is worth preserving (or elevating), and for me that concept of humanity IS tied up with things like self-awareness.

I realize that this leaves open all sorts of lines of attack regarding eugenics and other things that are generally considered argument-ending absurdities of evil, and I know how rotten I felt hearing my uncle drowning kittens in a rain-barrel, but I think that it makes sense, and just requires a slightly different set of values assumptions.

(By the way, one of the reasons that I like Roe is that Solomon-like decision on where the border of legal abortion is, abstracted from when the average fetus can exist outside the body of the mother. Even if I don't agree that independent survival is what makes a person, I can still respect the logic that went into setting that dividing line.)
posted by klangklangston at 9:28 AM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


It definitely seems to me that neonates do not possess personhood, but gain it as their brain and mind develop.

Two thoughts, not entirely developed: The first, is it meaningful to speak of degrees of personhood, and should we therefore consider degrees of human rights? A possible implication: Say a fetus has some degree of personhood while a 20-year old has more, so the fetus should have fewer rights than a 20-year-old, e.g. a much less absolute right to life. It might also follow that 20-year-old A might have a lesser degree of personhood than 20-year-old B and therefore A could be accorded fewer rights than B. "Degrees of personhood" may be incompatible with our societies' ideas of "equality."

The second is Forbidden Experiment, the sequel: seal a newborn in a featureless space, insulated from light, sound, or other interaction, with some life support system. Basically, put them back in an artificial womb and leave them there. Would this newborn develop personhood? I don't know.

Back to the question at hand, yes, this implies killing a newborn who is not yet a human person is acceptable. As a practical moral and legal guideline, especially considering the availability of abortion, I would say that as birth is a clearly demarcated point at which the human life is not yet a person, but the point at which the infant becomes a person is very unclear, it is better to err on the side of protecting persons by prohibiting infanticide.

I tend to think if the fetus is assigned personhood at some point, then abortions are unacceptable after that point excepting very serious danger to the mother. Assuming that personhood is achieved in the womb, "Viability" and "quickening" have been used as this point, but I don't see how the lack of need for a life support system or the possession of musculature have much to do with personhood. "Conception" is also right out as is any early period when there clearly is no brain.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:46 AM on September 2, 2008


TOCT, it's clear we're not going to convince one another. I feel about your position the same way you feel about mine: "This is a belief, [and] you can hold it." I don't think you will find alot of people agreeing with you that personhood starts at birth and that making the decision to abort a fetus at any time during a pregnancy, including the 8th month, carries no more moral implications than the decision to wear a condom. But these are all beliefs, and you can hold them.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:36 AM on September 2, 2008


Hmm, okay, I had not seen your most recent comment, in which you seem to accept the possibility of fetuses having the rights of semi-personhood at some point before birth. So we may not be that different after all, except that I think there are increasing moral implications along the way in getting to that point -- i.e., tougher to justify aborting a fetus at 5 months as compared to 2, and easier still (i.e., no problems with this at all) with deciding to use some form of birth control.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:41 AM on September 2, 2008


See, I'm in a completely different camp. I'm not against the Trisomy-fetus-abortion because it's a frail fragile human life with a consciousness and all that stuff. I'm against the concept of it being mandatory, and I'm completely against the concept of designer, pick and choose babies---which I realize isn't what we're talking about but it is the next logical step.
posted by TomMelee at 10:42 AM on September 2, 2008


Back to the question at hand, yes, this implies killing a newborn who is not yet a human person is acceptable.
And not just newborns. Basic self awareness starts at about six months, but I think we are well into toddlerhood if we are talking about the "reflection" part of the definition.

The first, is it meaningful to speak of degrees of personhood, and should we therefore consider degrees of human rights?
Yes, I think that that is a step forward because I think the black and white approach of either being a person or not (what do you do with people with, for example Alzheimer? or is being a person something you cannot give up, so that once you got your personhood status, it is not taken away?) is scarier. On the other hand, if you really argue that an infant has limited human rights, that opens the door to many scary possibilities that I would not want to consider.

It seems that we at least agree that aborting an eight month fetus is a different decision than aborting an eight week fetus.
posted by davar at 3:45 PM on September 2, 2008


Very interesting discussion that's developed here! I've enjoyed the perspectives.

Just one tiny fact-check wrt this, since it's a common misperception:
But people don't do this, because such a late-term abortion where the life of the mother is not in danger is illegal in most states

...you gotta throw "or health" in there to be accurate. Which is interpreted by the courts according the precedent of Doe to encompass "all factors - physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age - relevant to the wellbeing of the patient. All these factors may relate to health."

The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban act (or whatever it was called) that passed muster with the SC was controversial in part for banning an abortion procedure but also for not including an exception for the mother's health, although it did contain the life-exception:
"This subsection does not apply to a partial-birth abortion that is necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself."

That was the first time, I believe, that the SC allowed a contested abortion ban to pass without the health exception. And it was a ban on one procedure, not late-term abortion in general.

Late-term abortions where the mother's life isn't at stake, sometimes in cases with no or minor fetal anomaly, are legal and practiced (though comparatively rarely I know) in the U.S.
posted by torticat at 6:20 PM on September 2, 2008


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