Category Archives: Abortion

Gonzales v. Carhart alone justifies the Second GW Bush Administration

Thank God for Justice Alito.
Thank God for Justice Roberts.

The best-of highlights from the ruling, courtesy of Justice Ginsburg:

Today’s decision is alarming. It refuses to take Casey and Stenberg seriously. It tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). It blurs the line, firmly drawn in Casey,between previability and postviability abortions. And, for the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman’s health.

Ultimately, the Court admits that “moral concerns” are at work, concerns that could yield prohibitions on any abortion. See ante, at28 (“Congress could … conclude that the type of abortion proscribed by the Act requires specific regulation because it implicates additional ethical and moral concerns that justify a special prohibition.”). Notably, the concerns expressed are untethered to any ground genuinely serving the Government’s interest in preserving life. By allowing such concerns to carry the day and case, overriding fundamental rights, the Court dishonors our precedent. See, e.g., Casey, 505 U. S., at 850 (“Some of us as individuals find abortion offensive to our most basic principles of morality, but that cannot control our decision. Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code.”); Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U. S. 558, 571 (2003) (Though “[f]or many persons [objections to homosexual conduct] are not trivial concerns but profound and deep convictions accepted as ethical and moral principles,” the power of the State may not be used “to enforce these views on the whole society through operation of the criminal law.” (citing Casey, 505 U. S., at 850)).

Revealing in this regard, the Court invokes an antiabortion shibboleth for which it concededly has no reliable evidence: Women who have abortions come to regret their choices, and consequently suffer from “[s]evere depression and loss of esteem.” Ante, at 29.7 Because of women’s fragile emotional state and because of the “bond of love the mother has for her child,” the Court worries, doctors may withhold information about the nature of the intact D&E procedure. Ante, at 28–29.8 The solution the Court approves, then, is not to require doctors to inform women, accurately and adequately, of the different procedures and their attendant risks. Cf. Casey, 505 U. S., at 873 (plurality opinion) (“States are free to enact laws to provide a reasonable framework for a woman to make a decision that has such profound and lasting meaning.”). Instead, the Court deprives women of the right to make an autonomous choice, even at the expense of their safety.9

Today, the Court blurs that line, maintaining that “[t]he Act [legitimately] appl[ies] both previability and postviability because … a fetus is a living organism while within the womb, whether or not it is viable outside the womb.” Ante, at 17. Instead of drawing the line at viability, the Court refers to Congress’ purpose to differentiate “abortion and infanticide” based not on whether a fetus can survive outside the womb, but on where a fetus is anatomically located when a particular medical procedure is performed. See ante, at 28 (quoting Congressional Findings (14)(G), in notes following 18 U. S. C. §1531 (2000 ed., Supp. IV), p. 769).

One wonders how long a line that saves no fetus from destruction will hold in face of the Court’s “moral concerns.” See supra, at 15; cf. ante, at16 (noting that “[i]n this litigation” the Attorney General “does not dispute that the Act would impose an undue burden if it covered standard D&E”). The Court’s hostility to the right Roe and Casey secured is not concealed. Throughout, the opinion refers to obstetrician-gynecologists and surgeons who perform abortions not by the titles of their medical specialties, but by the pejorative label “abortion doctor.” Ante, at 14, 24, 25, 31, 33. A fetus is described as an “unborn child,” and as a “baby,” ante, at 3, 8; second-trimester, previability abortions are referred to as “late-term,” ante, at 26; and the reasoned medical judgments of highly trained doctors are dismissed as “preferences”motivated by “mere convenience,” ante, at 3, 37. Instead of the heightened scrutiny we have previously applied, the Court determines that a “rational” ground is enough to uphold the Act, ante, at28, 37. And, most troubling, Casey’s principles, confirming the continuing vitality of “the essential holding of Roe,” are merely “assume[d]” for the moment, ante, at15, 31, rather than “retained” or “reaffirmed,” Casey, 505 U. S., at 846.

Thank God for the Re-Election of President George Walker Bush.

PS: Remember my mock report of the imposition of Curia on the Untied States? Well, the Kos Kids aren’t joking.

A Pro-Life State

Republicans opposed to abortion ban lose in S.D.,” by Judy Keen, USA Today, 8 June 2006, http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/20060608/pl_usatoday/republicansopposedtoabortionbanloseinsd (from Mainstream Coalition’s leader: Vote proves need,” by David Kranz, Argus Leader, 13 June 2006, http://argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060613/COLUMNISTS0102/606130320/1131.

Imagine a legislative caucus whose ever member up for reelection lost. That’s the South Dakota Mainstream Coalition, a bi-partisan group of legislatures whose main issue in the last legislative session was a defense of abortion. Their spin, as reported by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader political correspond (and close friend of Tom Daschle) David Kranz:

Frequent discussion since four Republican state Senators lost bids for re-election last week centers around its impact on the Mainstream Coalition.

The defeats opened the door for ridicule from anti-abortion critics saying the organization got its just dessert.

This isn’t the setback that some gloaters think, says state Sen. Ed Olson, a Mitchell Republican and executive director of the Mainstream Coalition.

senator_ed_olson
Senator Ed Olson (R-Mitchell)

“What does it say about the future? It points to why we needed to start Mainstream,” Olson said. “Look at the turnout. You had some districts with 11 and 12 percent. I think it is unbelievable, the voter apathy.”

The poorly attended primary was not an indicator of strength or weakness of the group, he said.

It’s onward and upward,” Olson said. “I know there was a tremendous amount of work done by those who staunchly oppose us, but the premise was we wanted to be a group people were comfortable with, Republican, Democrats, pro or anti-abortion, whatever. I look at that turnout and say now more than ever, something has to change.”

While Senator Olson characterizes the SDMC’s cataclysmic defeat as “onward and upward,” the national Gannet news organization has a different perspective:

There’s certainly no good news in the outcome for pro-choice advocates,” Bob Burns, a political science professor at South Dakota State University, said Wednesday.

The defeat Tuesday of half of the eight Senate Republicans who opposed the nation’s most restrictive abortion law might mean trouble for a planned referendum in November to rescind the ban, Burns says. The other four had no primary challengers.

The results “mean that the state of South Dakota is very pro-life,” says state Sen. Bill Napoli, who voted for the ban and won his primary.

I previously reported on the Pro-Life Sweep in South Dakota’s primary election. I did my part, and voted for the successful reelection effort of Senator Gene Abdallah (R-Sioux Falls).

Abortion Foes Victorious in SD Primaries

Several Opponents of Abortion Bill Lose,” by Joe Kafka, Associated Press, 7 June 2006, http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/politics/14756121.htm (from South Dakota Politics).

More good news from the Pro-Life State, following the Democratic Party’s firing of their pro-abortion Clean Cut Kid and the Oglala Sioux suspension of their pro-abortion President

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Pro-Abortion Senators Defeated in the ’06 Pimary: Adelstein (R-Rapid City), Duniphan (R-Rapid City), Kooistra (R-Garretson), Moore (D-Yankton), Sutton (R-Aberdeen)

Pro-Life Senators Victorious in the ’06 Primary: Abdallah (R-Sioux Falls), Bartling (D-Burke), Greenfield (R-Clark), Klaudt (R-Walker), Napoli (R-Rapid City)

Congratulations!

South Dakota Democratic Party Fires Pro-Abortion Blogger

Abortion Feud Strikes Dems,” by Kevin Woster, The Rapid City Journal, 5 June 2006, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2006/06/04/news/top/news01.txt (from South Dakota Politics).

Just a day after I noted that the Oglala Sioux Nation suspended her President for pushing pro-abortion views at the expense of the Tribe, the South Dakota Democratic Party has fired two contractors (including one prominent blogger) for similar reasons

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Pro-Life State

The Democratic leader in the South Dakota Senate says a Sioux Falls consultant under contract with the party is advancing a pro-choice philosophy on abortion at the expense of Democratic candidates for the state Legislature who oppose abortion.

Sen. Garry Moore of Yankton said consultant Steve Hildebrand, a former executive director for the state Democratic Party and past campaign manager for Tom Daschle, is working to defeat Democratic legislators who voted for HB1215, the controversial near-total ban on abortion approved by the Legislature this year.

Moore said Hildebrand has made it clear that electing pro-choice candidates is more important than electing Democratic candidates. Hildebrand and his employee Chad Schuldt have also issued critical and — in Shuldt’s case — profane statements about Democrats who supported HB1215.

During the past legislative session, Schuldt referred to some Democrats who voted for HB1215 as “(expletive) idiots” and “sickos” on an Internet political blog he maintains. Schuldt also called Moore “a joke” as a legislative leader and encouraged his defeat, along with others who voted for the abortion bill.

Chad Shultd of Clean Cut Kid, whose front page at present discusses George Bush’s desire for a draft and establishing the fact that Northern State University political science professor Jon Schaff [of South Dakota Politics is an idiot, has been mentioned on tdaxp before.

For more excerpts from the article, read on:

Critics of Hildebrand and Schuldt have taken the issue to Judy Olson Duhamel of Rapid City, the state chairwoman of the South Dakota Democratic Party. Former state Sen. Jim Hutmacher of Oacoma, a current member of the party’s Central Committee who once was Democratic leader in the Senate, has asked Olson Duhamel and the party’s executive board to sever business relationships with Hildebrand. Hutmacher also wants Hildebrand removed from his unpaid position as coordinator of the campaign fund named in honor of Daschle.

They are particularly irked by Hildebrand’s statements in a Washington, D.C., political publication that he would work for a pro-choice majority in the Legislature.

“As a former Democratic Senate Leader, I am very offended at Steve Hildebrand’s ‘goal’ of a ‘pro-choice majority,’” when it comes at the expense of current members of the Democratic Caucus,” Hutmacher wrote to Olson Duhamel. “Steve Hildebrand is one of those people who would see our party divided and some of our legislators defeated.”

..

In a letter soliciting donations to his PAC, Common Sense South Dakota, Hildebrand said Bartling had “crawled in bed with the likes or Roger Hunt [the prime sponsor of HB1215, which outlawed abortion in the state], Rob Regier and Alan and Leslie Unruh — people who worked their tails off to defeat Tom Daschle in 2004 and make abortion an issue in his political campaign.”

There is a connection too:

Abortion became a troublesome issue for Daschle during his 2004 re-election campaign against successful challenger John Thune. Daschle maintained that he opposed abortion personally but also supported abortion rights affirmed in the 1973 Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision.

That put Daschle in a difficult position as Thune, his campaign staff and anti-abortion activists hammered at the abortion issue. Hildebrand ran Daschle’s campaign two years ago. And even though Daschle received about 30,000 more votes than Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson captured in defeating Thune in 2002, Thune topped Daschle in 2004.

Obviously angered by Hildebrand’s actions regarding HB1215 supporters, Moore recalled the 2004 election last week.

“Maybe we can blame Hildebrand for Daschle’s defeat,” Moore said. “Quite frankly, he isn’t the smartest individual.”

For those interested in networked warfare, this amounts to a defensive strike by the Democratic network against an ideological network.

Oglala Sioux Indian Tribe Bans Abortion, Suspends Pro-Abortion President

Tribal Council Outlaws Abortion,” by Nestor Ramos, Argus Leader, 31 May 2006, http://www.argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060531/NEWS/605310319/1001 (from Sibby Online).

Some may remember that slightly after South Dakota passed her ban on abortions, the world media jumped in to trash the Coyote and Pheasant State.

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Even a prominent South Dakotan, Oglala Sioux President Cecilia Fire Thunder, announced that her reservation would soon offer abortions free from state laws.

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But her people protested. They would have none of it:

The Oglala Sioux tribal council banned all abortions on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and suspended President Cecelia Fire Thunder on Tuesday, charging that she solicited donations on behalf of the tribe for a proposed abortion clinic without the council’s approval.

“It was unauthorized political activity,” said Will Peters, a tribal council representative from the Pine Ridge district. “It’s just a matter of failing to communicate not only with the governing body but with the people that she was elected to serve.”

This must be the greatest humiliation for a South Dakota liberal since George McGovern. Or Tom Daschle. Or at least Jim Abourezk.

Wrong on Immigration. Wrong on Abortion.

Immigration: Four Things The Home Countries Could Do,” by Don Reid, Business Week, 15 May 2006, pg 20, http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_20/c3984029.htm.

A letter to the editor of Business Week that is shockingly wrong. I normally don’t comment on letters to editors, but this is so wrong in both its ends and means it deserves special attention, in the sense that a train wreck does:

“The best immigration reform” (Outside Shot, Apr. 24) repeats a frequent refrain that the countries of immigrants should institute policies that reduce the need for citizens to go elsewhere to find jobs. If it were easy, they probably would.

One thing that could be done today that would show results within 5 to 10 years would be to have the native countries of immigrants reduce their rates of population growth.

Population growth is something that individual countries can manage. The U.S. should not bear the consequences because they refuse.

Wrong on ends. Immigration helps the United States. It doesn’t only encourage small government. It promotes economic growth, by matching willing workers with eager employers. What little harm immigration causes is easily offset by immigration’s economic gains. Calling on emigrant countries to stem the flow of immigration is like calling on Japan to stem the tide of stylish, affordable automobiles. It’s poorly designed protection for a very small number of Americans, at the expense of everyone, when the real issue is a request for a welfare subsidy.

Wrong on means. The letter doesn’t explicitly use the term, but ‘population control’ tends to be a codeword for “abortion.” It’s schemes like this (killing off surgically reducing the future generations of nations we don’t want to deal with) that gives the West a very bad name. And the leadership of traditional communities stupid enough to embrace this sort of plan often find themselves politically terminated.

Support immigration. Support life. Support People. Oppose government control schemes.

Fisking Der Spiegel on South Dakota

The Front Lines of the Religious War in God’s Own Country,” by Frank Hornig, translated by Christopher Sultan, Spiegel Online, 13 March 2006, http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,405690,00.html (from RadioActive Chief, also at Albert Mohler, Forest Nymph, Lost in Media, Titus One Nine).

A stray link over at JRR alerted a German article on the .

The wrongness of the article extends from geography, to politics, to everything in between.

Begin rant:

Phillips Avenue in Sioux Falls, South Dakota — located in the heart of the flat Midwestern prairie

Philips Avenue is in the heart of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which lies in a huge bowl surrounded by “hills.” You have to travel a long distance, certainly longer from Foss Field to downtown Sioux Falls

downtown_sioux_falls_airport_philipps_up_md
Foss Field to Philipps Avenue

to get to even the rolling prairies of South Dakota.

That’s why Sioux Falls appears to have no skyline — the tallest buildings are about level with the land outside the city.

— is a sleepy thoroughfare.

If “sleepy thoroughfare” equals “the heart of downtown of the largest city in the state,” yes.

There are a few businesses along the street, a couple of restaurants, and a souvenir shop which struggles to attract customers.

*cough*

From the DTSF Business Directory. Those not on Philipps are about a block away

Cafe 334
605.334.3050334 S. Phillips Ave.
Food N’ Fermentation
605.332.4338212 S. Phillips Ave.
Minerva’s
605.334.0386301 S. Phillips Ave.
Touch of Europe
605.336.3066337 S. Phillips Ave.
Coffee ‘N Clay
605.367.1100324 S. Phillips Avenue
De Hoek
605.334.2942200 S. Phillips Ave.
Falls Landing Restaurant
605.373.0153200 E. 8th St.
Hamburger Inn
605.332.5412111 E 10th Street
Kaladis Coffee Legend & Bistro
605.977.0888121 S. Main Avenue
Leonardo’s Cafe at the Washinton Pavilion
605.731.2384301 S. Main Avenue
Mama’s Ladas
605-332-2772116 W. 11th St.
Ming Wah’s Chinese American
119 W. 10th St.
Park Place Cafe and Terrace
605.339.2000100 W. 8th St.
Phillips Ave. Diner
605.335.4977121 S. Phillips Avenue
River Walk Cafe
605.339.4824196 E. 6th St.
Sanaa’s 8th Street Gourmet
605.275.2516401 E. 8th St. Suite #100
Skelly’s Pub and Grill
605.221.0244130 S. Phillips Ave.
Soda Falls In Zandbroz
605.331.5137209 S. Phillips Ave.
The Cookie Jar
605.978.0991125 W. 10th St.
Uncle Angelo’s Italian Buffet
605.330.0331230 S. Phillips Ave.
Zandbroz Variety
605-331-5137209 S. Phillips Ave.

But last Thursday, this dreary provincial boulevard

>

A boulevard?

philipps_avenue_downtown_md
Philipps Avenue

Nope, because it’s not divided.

became the dividing line separating two irreconcilable camps in the city — and it became the most recent front line in an ongoing war that bisects the entire nation. For about an hour, opposing groups of demonstrators swore at one another across the street, launching a new round in an old dispute that has long since expanded into a cultural battle — a bitter fight that has raged for decades between conservatives and liberals, devout Christians and women’s rights groups.

Setting aside the idea that “women” or “women’s rights” includes only one ideological perspective (an error also made by Misquoting Jesus), the conservative v. liberal divide simply does not describe South Dakota. The Mount Rushmore State is prairie populist, which is why the state constantly sends Democrats to Washington and republicans to Pierre.

By signing the bill into law, Rounds threw down the gauntlet not just to the majority of Americans — two-thirds of whom are pro-choice — but also to the United States Supreme Court, which established the constitutional right to abortion more than 30 years ago in the landmark decision “Roe vs. Wade”.

Also ignoring the article’s questionable definition of “pro-choice,” the important piece here is the reference to the United States Supreme Court. To paraphrase Tom Barnett, the United States is an economic and political union of fifty member states, and when push comes to shove, Massachusetts and South Dakota can each have the laws they want.

With the bizarre exception of abortion.

South Dakota’s law is an attempt to correct that.

The burning issues dividing America today are the extent to which right-wing fundamentalists should influence public life, and the relevance of religious morals in a nominally secular country.

The article’s confusion of evangelicalism and fundementalism is as typical as it is misguided.

the separation of church and state

Considering that South Dakota former four-term Governor and former Congressman is a self-described “Jewish Lutheran” and son of one of the Nuremberg prosecutor, and the South Dakota capital building yearly is decorated with a Menorah, the author’s sectarian view is bizarre.

in a nominally secular country.

Nominally secular? Nominally? Where is America or South Dakota described that way? Certainly our united States are at least nominally Christian or nominally faithful, but nominally secular? How strange.

Thelma Underberg, director of the regional pro-choice movement, has been fighting to uphold abortion rights for more than 40 years. For Underberg, professional and economic equal opportunity and a woman’s right to choose are inextricably linked. When the Supreme Court passed Roe vs. Wade in 1973, enabling women to obtain abortions legally anywhere in America, Underberg celebrated. “We thought we had won,” she says.

But now, sitting in her windowless office, she says she doesn’t understand the world anymore. The 74-year-old has three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and she is active in her church. Yet while she outwardly resembles her opponents in the pro-life camp, she refuses to speak with them. “You might as well be talking to a wall,” she says.

Rarely does one read such classic examples of self-referential cognitive loops. A fighter thinks he wins, he ignores reality, and then loses. Interesting.

The climate began to deteriorate in South Dakota sometime in the mid-1990s, says Underberg. The churches, led by the Catholic Church, began politicizing the abortion issue and endorsing candidates who were willing to oppose abortion. Apparently the strategy worked. South Dakota’s state legislature ratified the new law with a majority of 50 to 18 votes. “The dividing lines didn’t run between the parties or the sexes,” says Democratic state legislator Elaine Roberts. In the end, religious faith was the deciding factor — and the crevice which has been slowly wedging American society apart for several years came into sharp focus in South Dakota.

The ban is supported by members of both parties and sexes. Considering the hysteria, that’s important to remember.

The religious war in the Midwest is gradually threatening to become a burden for Bush, himself a born-again Christian. At least five other states in the American Heartland have backed South Dakota’s radical approach. But such extreme positions are unlikely to sway a majority of moderate Republican voters in urban areas. States with larger populations, critical in election season, like Pennsylvania and Ohio, could easily revert to Democratic control if the Supreme Court ever decides to overturn its 1973 landmark decision.

A reversal of Roe v. Wade would de-federalize the issue, sending abortion back to the 50 united States of America where it belongs. Abortion is only a federal issue, at all, because of the Supreme Court’s overstretch in the 1970s. There is no reason for thinking it will remain so.

Two-thirds of Americans are against a tightening of the current liberal laws on abortion. Nevertheless, the abortion rate has consistently declined since the 1980s, even without a ban, and has almost returned to its level in 1973, when Roe vs. Wade made abortion legal.

Most Americans believe partial birth abortions should not be legal.

But any moderate, reasoned approach to the issue has long been shunted aside

Here, the article is somewhat right. The Supreme Court, by removing abortion from the democratic process, has prevented the emergence of a stable center. That is a true loss.

Blueprint for a Conservative Court: Infants Worth Saving

The oh-so-Catholic Supreme Court,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 1 November 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002607.html.

Tom Barnett isn’t just an important grand strategist: he is also a canny observer of American politics. If one corrects for Dr. Barnett’s political persuasion, one gets a reliable guide of what to do.

For example: I was uncommitted on Harriet Miers until supported her. Why? Dr. Barnett accurately predicted that if Harriet Miers was withdrawn, the next candidate would be “a truly right-wing justice.” Sure enough, we got that candidate in .

Now, Dr. Barnett confirms my membership in the Confirm Alito Coalition

Bush went conservative all right, and now we’ve really got our threat to Roe v. Wade. The American Catholic church has let itself become defined by this issue, which accounts for the increasingly conservative caste of both the clergy and faithful.

Now, with Alito likely to join Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, and moderate Kennedy on the bench, we’re looking at a majority Catholic Supreme Court. It wasn’t that long ago (my early years) that there was a single, dedicated “Catholic seat” on the Court.

He also correctly lays the credit for the Catholic (and Evangelical) rise to the people who made it all possible: abortionists.

Now, thanks to the divisive issue of abortion, the Catholics are running the Court more and more.

He’s obviously worried:

Really amazing when you think of it. When I was born, the great religious controversy was having the first (and to date, only) Catholic president, John Kennedy. Oh the concerns that the White House would be captured by the Vatican!

Well, the Vatican is coming awfully close to capturing the Supreme Court.

And as a moderate Catholic, I confess I am made nervous by this development.

Translation: as an abortionist, Alito makes him nervous. Good!

But then: Dr. Barnett jumps the shark.

Reversing Roe v. Wade is a chimera, a dream. With global connectivity, abortion can and will be outsourced to nations (like India, with its burgeoning medical tourism) on a low-cost basis. Our only alternative will be ultrasounds at airports to stop pregnant women from traveling abroad, which, quite frankly, will come off like some queer sci-fi future dystopia story or–worse–like some scene from a freaky socialist regime like old Nicolae Ceaucescu’s Romania (that’s how all those orphanages got filled up, my friends, not a pretty sight).

Foolish, foolish, foolish

Barnett’s words are just a globalized version of the “backstreet abortion” criticism: if you criminalize something, it will still happen.

Law do not end behavior. Law cannot create a perfect world. There will always be murders, infanticides, robberies, thefts, etc. But the important part is law can be a tool in reducing crime. We can never end crime, but we can manage crime. We can’t save all infants. But we can save many.

I would have expected a similar insight from Dr. Barnett, not an implicit comparison of the GOP to the Romanian Communist Party.

Pity.

The Conservative / Liberal Case for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

I Think I Get It Now,” by John Podhoretz, The Corner, 6 August 2005, http://corner.nationalreview.com/05_07_31_corner-archive.asp#072197.

I support stem cell research using embryos left over from fertilization…,” by Sophia, Clean Cut Kid, 8 August 2005, http://www.cleancutkid.com/2005/08/06/dobson-stem-cells-and-the-right.

Liberal CCK commentator Sophia abrasively defends embryonic stem cell research from an overbearing “culture of life”

Those embryos and blastocysts are just little gobs of cells for Pete’s sake! They don’t think, talk, plan, experience. They are just little blobs of cells, and those little blobs of cells could make dramatic changes for millions and billions of suffering people.

We don’t have proof that those stem cells will vastly improve quality of life – because we haven’t had the opportunity to do the research. We don’t have proof that they won’t make those wonderful changes either.

Yup, they could be misused. As George Will said in today’s column, we live our lives on a slippery slope of one kind or another.

This “sanctity of life” thing has gone way overboard. When there is a death, even of a real, living, breathing, existing child, there is something to mourn. At a funeral for a five month old, the pastor related the family’s story of how this little boy liked to ride in his stroller, how his hair was growing, etc. What is there to say about an embryo, a blastocyst?

But, but, but it might become. . . Yeah, it might become anything. Or nothing.

Conservative NRO commentator John says almost the exact same thing, echoing the ancient Talmud

But as I’ve been trying to argue, the morality here isn’t as clear-cut as you would like it to be. Perhaps it is for a practicing Catholic, for example, because the doctrine of the church is that all embryo creation outside the womb is a sinful act to begin with. But for a practicing Jew like me, for instance, the moral framework has a different baseline.

The Talmud says any embryo-fetus under the age of 40 days is to be deemed “like water.” That sounds harsh, though I believe its initial intention was to limit the emotional involvement of parents in the very early stages of pregnancy, when something like 25 percent of all fetuses naturally abort.

In any case, the code of ethics outlined in the Old Testament and the Talmud is based in the admonition in Leviticus to “choose life.” In the case of embryonic stem-cell research, an argument can be made that such research does just that.

John concludes his thoughts by criticizing the increasingly empty arguments of the anti-researchers, and sees himself drifting to support federal funding of such research. Increasingly, I agree with John

Now here’s the thing. I am not even ARGUING in favor of embryonic stem-cell research. I find myself in some sympathy with the argument that any such research represents a journey down a potentially treacherous and immoral road. But I have to tell you, if brilliant polemicists like you can’t make better arguments than the ones you’ve been making, you’re helping to lead me toward that slippery slope….And here endeth my disquisitions on this subject. (For now.)

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Life?

Easy, Safe, and Legal Abortion in South Dakota

Probe continues into death of child in car,” by Naomi Schemm, Rapid City Journal, 18 July 2005, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2005/07/19/news/local/news05.txt.

Roe v. Wade isn’t very relevant when you can just fry ’em

An investigation is continuing into the death of Jesse Templeton, a 13-month-old Pierre boy, who died Friday afternoon after being left unattended in a closed vehicle in rural Stanley County, according to a news release.

The Stanley County State’s Attorney’s office may consider potential manslaughter, child-neglect or other charges after the conclusion of the investigation by the sheriff’s office and the South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigation, according to a news release.

The infant was discovered about 4:15 p.m. in a car outside his father’s office building near Oahe Dam, according to the news release from State’s Attorney Tom Maher. The toddler was transported to St. Mary’s Healthcare Center but could not be revived and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

According to the news release, preliminary investigation indicates he died from heat exposure, but the county coroner has requested a forensic autopsy.

Isburg Funeral Home in Pierre is responsible for the arrangements, and the service will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 21. The family has requested that no obituary for the boy be released to the Rapid City Journal.

Besides the convenience of a multi-year “send it back” trial period for births, the story does have another lesson

In most traditional cultures, infanticide is not just a “choice” but it is not “murder” either. Infanticide, a category of killing from roughly the sixth to twelfth month after conception, is rarely a respected choice but rarely murder.

But twenty-one months after start of life? That might be a different story…