Questionable Motives

October 16, 2012

What does hypocritical religious bullying look like on websites?

Filed under: abortion,bullying,misogyny,Religion,reproductive rights — tildeb @ 10:04 am

It looks like “your comment is awaiting moderation.”

Over at the blog Eternity Matters, for example, we read the thoughts of a man who claims that god “has given me the passion and the opportunity to share the Gospel with countless atheists and agnostics.” Okay. The guy says he wants to share. Sharing is good. I like to share my thoughts, too.

So I read his posts. Granted, they are often vitriolic diatribes against anyone who dares question his certainty that god has determined that all abortion (but not the supposedly god-sanctioned spontaneous kind) is a moral obscenity, but this is not a surprise given that he thinks that god also specially selected him with “a passion to get involved in the pro-life issue, which I consider to be the most important moral issue of our time.  I’ve been a volunteer at CareNet Pregnancy center as a counselor, teacher of pro-life reasoning classes and board member – where we try to save lives now and for eternity.”

This guy honestly thinks he represents god’s eternal will in this matter.

Oh, my.

In the news lately is the tragic suicide of bullied Canadian teen Amanda Todd and we hear many comments from those in positions of authority about what can be done to reduce the bullying that causes so much unnecessary grief. One in particular grabbed our blogger’s attention, and of course he has to twist it into revealing a liberal attempt to thwart god’s will about the immorality of anyone so misguided as to support a woman’s legal right to choose what is done with her womb.  Here’s the first part of his post:

As my brilliant wife noted, abortion is the ultimate bullying: A weak, defenseless, unwanted human being is literally destroyed.  The innocent victim is de-humanized and left completely unprotected.

Now the Democrats want it to be funded by taxpayers, including pro-lifers.  So they quit being “pro-choice” and are now completely pro-abortion.  They think that there aren’t enough abortions in our society and they want to force pro-lifers and religious organizations to pay for those abortions.  That is the opposite of choice.  It is also racist, as those abortions will certainly increase abortions in the black community beyond the current 3-to-1 ratio relative to whites.

You might think that is as extreme as you could get pro-abortion-wise, but that would mean you hadn’t read this: Ontario Catholic Schools Forbidden From Noticing That Abortion Is Wrong.  Yes, they consider it bullying to even mention pro-life reasoning in Catholic schools and they are glad to trample religious freedom and free speech.  This is what you get when you vote for Liberals.

It always bothers me when people assume that public education is the right channel to promote a religious agenda… in this case the immorality of medically responsible abortion services. This approach utterly fails to reveal why the need for therapeutic abortion services is a matter of medical concern and turns it into a black or white moral issue fueled by religious zealotry. It is this zealotry that is misogynistic because it is aimed solely at women to at least impede if not eliminate their legal right to have access to have any say over the contents of their uterus’. It fails to make any room at the inn of religious certainty for professional medical services based on best practices when it comes to an occupied uterus. Eternity Matters (EM) insists that curtailing the teaching in publicly funded schools that abortion is a moral obscenity is an even greater form of bullying than that imposed on Amanda.

So I decide to share my thoughts about EM’s one-sided post and comment…

Telling children what to think with public education dollars equals religious freedom. Teaching children how to think is bullying. Riiiigght.

Why don’t you check out what it is like to live in a country that has codified into law these catholic ‘moral’ precepts and then report back on how well your anti-choice position combats misogyny? What gets lost in all the anti-choice noise is the concern for respecting women’s health and providing proper access to health care services directly related to it. When you place this concern somewhere beyond the filter of your moral precepts, you are exercising misogyny. Why is is (sic) it your job to tell others what is and is not moral? Do you honestly think that women are not capable of considering the moral ramifications of their choices so they need to be told… by men like you?

The result? My comment is held in moderation while others are allowed to post supportive comments! After many hours, I comment again,

The heading in the comment section reads, “So, what do you think?”

I comment and you ‘moderate’ it out of existence because….? You show that you don’t care what others think when you do this; what you really create is simply an echo chamber by allowing comments that support your view while you censor criticisms of it. This practice shows your intellectual integrity in action, and it is lacking.

One would think that for someone with such certainty about your moral superiority and clarity of god’s objective moral authority you are quite willing to impose on others, you would be willing to take on all comers because your position is strong. Obviously, it’s not and you aren’t up to the job because you fear that the criticisms of the opinions of those with whom you disagree are simply beyond your ability to adequately address. And doesn’t that show better than anything I can say why theology like yours in practice is identical to intolerance and tyranny. That makes you a bully! Well done.

Because such people as the blogger at Eternity Matters are bullies, they need to be exposed for the cowards they really are… the cowards who hide behind their ability to moderate dissent.

January 11, 2012

Why is being called an ignorant creationist redundant?

I like the Catholic Encyclopedia definition of ignorance in the sense I am using here, namely, a lack of knowledge about a thing in a being capable of knowing rather than the standard notion of it meaning merely a lack of knowledge, education, or awareness… for which one may not be responsible. Creationists here in the West have no such similar excuse; instead, they are perfectly capable of knowing why genetics and the geologic time scale and evolution are not just true in some theoretical sense but true in the fact that they inform our technologies and practices that work consistently and reliably well for everyone everywhere all the time. We are populated by large numbers of people who doubt specific scientific inquires in order to maintain a belief in some kind of religiously motivated ‘creative’ agency… something I call divine POOF!ism. This is intellectually bankrupt and teaching it is as if it were compatible and supportive of science is simply not true. It is religious selfishness in action.

What excuse beyond selfishness do we find for so many Protestant pastors from this Southern Baptist Convention survey? Consider the following:

America’s Protestant pastors overwhelmingly reject the theory of evolution and are evenly split on whether the earth is 6,000 years old, according to a survey released Monday by the Southern Baptist Convention.

When asked if “God used evolution to create people,” 73% of pastors disagreed – 64% said they strongly disagreed – compared to 12% who said they agree.

Asked whether the earth is approximately 6,000 years old, 46% agreed, compared to 43% who disagreed.

A movement called Young Earth creationism promotes the 6,000-year-old figure, arguing that it is rooted in the Bible. Scientists say the earth is about 4.5 billion years old.

The Southern Baptist Convention survey, which queried 1,000 American Protestant pastors, also found that 74% believe the biblical Adam and Eve were literal people.

“Recently discussions have pointed to doubts about a literal Adam and Eve, the age of the earth and other origin issues,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, a division of the Southern Baptist Convention, in a report on LifeWay’s site. “But Protestant pastors are overwhelmingly Creationists and believe in a literal Adam and Eve.”

Not only do so many of these people not keep their bizarre beliefs private but actually promote them through congregational teachings. And what many are teaching, even though they are beings quite capable of knowing differently, is if not factually wrong then grossly misleading because it is incompatible with what we do know based on what works consistently and reliably for everyone everywhere all the time. In addition, these teaching are pernicious in that they cause intended harm through the promotion of willful ignorance contrary to the teaching of knowledge.

How can I say such things?

Well, consider the incompatibility of belief in an historical and literal Adam and Eve. This doesn’t mean people are rejecting ‘science’ in the larger sense of term but it does mean that people are rejecting our current understanding of genetics. Such a belief ignores the evidence we have about how genetics work in highly predictable ways… ways we rely on to understand heritable diseases and crop sciences, as but two examples. In fact, this belief is in direct and uncompromising conflict with our understanding of genetics that works for everyone everywhere all the time. There is very strong genetic evidence unaccounted for by such a belief that the smallest human population from whom we come was no smaller than about ~10,000.  To believe in a literal and historical Adam and Eve means that believers really do reject this part of science we call genetics.

Consider the incompatibility of belief that the world is fewer than ~10,000 years old. This doesn’t mean people are rejecting ‘science’ in the larger sense of the term but it does mean that people are rejecting our current understanding of geology. Such a belief ignores the evidence we have about the age and formation of rock strata and the forces that have affected them over time that works in highly predictable ways… ways we rely on to understand resource exploration and extraction and erosion and tectonics, as but four examples. In fact this belief in young earth creationism is in conflict with our understanding of geology (and radioactive decay) that works for everyone everywhere all the time. There is very strong geological evidence unaccounted for by such a belief that we live on planet that has undergone significant change over a great deal of time. To believe in a created earth means that believers really do reject this part of science we call geology (and, by extension, the age of other planets).

Consider the incompatibility of belief that our biological heritage is from divine creation by an interventionist agency. This doesn’t mean people are rejecting ‘science’ in the larger sense of the term but it does mean that people are rejecting our current understand of evolution. Such a belief ignores the evidence we have about biological development and change over time by what is known as natural selection (it would not be ‘natural’ if traits were selected by some interventionist agency) that works in highly predictable ways… ways we rely on to understand biology and medicine, to name but two. There is very strong evolutionary evidence unaccounted for by such a creationist belief that life on earth is related yet differentiated by natural selection over a great deal of time. To believe in creationism means that believers really do reject this part of science we call biology.

So what’s the harm maintaining such a dismissive belief? After all, we are assured repeatedly by many earnest religious believers and apologetic accommodationists that ‘science’ and ‘religion’ are actually compatible… and even mutually supportive! So my question is – as always – Is this claim true?

I need to divert for a moment and look at ‘science’ in the larger sense and understand why this argument about creationists respecting science – but not these specific scientific avenues – is just not true.  Science, let us recall, is a METHOD of inquiry and not the results of an inquiry. In other words, exactly the same METHOD is used to investigate, say, genetics as it is germs, aerodynamics as it is astronomy. It makes no sense to suggest that it is somehow compatible and supportive to reject that METHOD here but not there in order to privilege some prior religious belief. It’s actually dishonest. It is neither compatible nor supportive to suggest that the belief in geocentrism does not stand in contrast and competition with heliocentrism when the two notions are incompatible – they are necessarily in conflict – any more than it does to suggest biblical inerrancy should be granted to the story of Adam and Eve but not biblical inerrancy to the sixty some odd reference to the earth as the center of the universe. To reject the specific science that informs genetics and geology and evolution to privilege religious beliefs incompatible with them is contrary to being supportive of the METHOD of science used to inform all other scientific inquiries. It is that identical METHOD that shows us that the geocentric model fails where the heliocentric model succeeds for everyone everywhere all the time. It is that METHOD that informs all these practical applications and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time derived from the specific scientific inquiries so vilified by supporters of creationism. By rejecting genetics and geology and evolution to favour and prejudice some holy scripture, creationists are rejecting the METHOD of science used to inform not just these specific scientific inquiries but ALL OF THEM.

This has a pernicious effect… especially in medicine.

Evolutionary theories are critical for understanding human disease. They are used to understand the origins of cancer and to better design therapies, which directly help our understanding through evolutionary history to explain modern health problems (such as type-II diabetes and obesity). It is upon these evolutionary theories that we have learned to appreciate viral evolution, which is used to design safe and effective vaccination strategies that work. For example, an evolutionary viewpoint is the only way to understand the spread of antibiotic resistance in bacteria and to develop effective methods for stopping or slowing it. Defining the evolutionary process of cancers is leading to new, more targeted approaches in cancer treatment. How we incorporate these evolutionary ideas into medical education enhances the education of health professionals, which is in stark conflict with creationist belief (that usually blames sin for our earned deaths… such a cheerful and optimistic bunch). Our biomedical science gains from understanding human evolution and allows us to design and implement solutions to our vulnerability to disease. The evolutionary approach to medicine and public health is enormous, informing areas of research and providing predictions and guidance for novel interventions.

All of this medical knowledge and its pursuit is at dire risk when we continue to pretend that teaching creationism is somehow compatible, somehow a legitimate and equivalent alternative, with the scientific quest to know.

It isn’t. At all.

Now consider the incompatibility creationism presents as an alternative to the benefits from informed medicine and how many future doctors and medical researchers are turned away from this pursuit in the name of honouring the religious beliefs of their parents and pastors about creationism. Think of how many students are affected when creationists in all their various lying for Jesus and Allah guises try to insert this theology into science classrooms or religious students who do everything they can to remove specific scientific inquiries like evolution from their educational curriculum.

All of this medical knowledge and its pursuit is at dire risk when we continue to pretend that teaching creationism is somehow compatible, somehow a legitimate and equivalent alternative, with the scientific METHOD. It’s simply not true.

Creationism – and its gaggle of handmaidens of other necessary beliefs contrary to specific scientific inquiries – is in direct conflict with the METHOD of science that produces what works for everyone everywhere all the time. This is why such belief that sidelines legitimate and honest inquiry into reality is not a ‘different way of knowing’ or some separate but equivalent Magesterium. Creationism is a turning away from honest scientific methodology (methodological naturalism) and insisting on a return to ignorance. Ignorance is the real alternative people are choosing when they reject and ignore knowledge we have that works for everyone everywhere all the time, knowledge upon which companies invest trillions of dollars, knowledge that has the effrontery to work consistently and reliably well in reality over time. By staying faithful to beliefs that are wholly inadequate to reveal what works in reality by comparison, people are choosing ignorance over knowledge to maintain their religious belief. The sacrifice costs. Yet still many are teaching  creationism to their kids and want it taught to the general public. They want respect for this ignorance established in law and want to base public policies on extensions of it in areas like research and human reproduction and foreign aid. It’s ignorance in action, what we atheists like to call ‘turtles all the way down’. It’s a ruse, a lie, an intentional deception, a willful disregard for what is true in reality to pretend creationism is an equivalent and respectable alternative to specific scientific inquiries rather than the ignorance in action it honestly is.

It’s high time more of us reminded creationists determined to insert their beliefs into the public domain of this brute fact, that being an ignorant creationist is in fact and deed redundant.

(h/t Pandasthumb)

April 19, 2011

Why are the Abrahamic religions blots on the dignity of humankind?

Because they they are misogynistic. Paula Kirby from the Washington Post explains why, from which I have extracted  the following but I know you’ll head on over to read the whole piece for yourself:

“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

Here, in Ephesians 5, attributed to St Paul, we have in a nutshell the church’s attitude to the respective positions of man and woman. The man’s role is to be the head, the woman’s to submit to him. The meaning is crystal clear, unmistakable; and yet, despite the fundamentalists who firmly believe such Iron Age prejudices still apply today, there are many liberal Christians who have the decency to cringe at the primitiveness of such instructions and who therefore bend over backwards to pretend they’re not as bad as they quite patently are. “Ah yes,” they say, “but Paul goes on to say that husbands must love their wives. And not just love them, but love them as they love themselves. So clearly this is a reciprocal arrangement, equal in value, imposing constraints of equal weight on both man and wife. All is well with the world and we can continue to pretend that Christianity is the friend of women.” But no. All is not well with the world, and only the deluded or the disingenuous could claim to see equality where there is only subservience.

It is interesting to note the context in which this infamous passage occurs: immediately following the commandment to women to submit to their husbands we find the commandment to children to obey their parents, and to slaves to obey their owners. No amount of instruction to the husbands, parents and owners in question not to ruthlessly exploit their positions of power can alter the fact that women are classed with children and slaves when it comes to their social standing, freedom and self-determination and, like them, are called on to embrace their inferior status with cheerfulness and enthusiasm. In this same sequence of instructions slave-owners are exhorted not to threaten their slaves. Does this make slavery acceptable? Of course not. Only religion could attempt to present such a loathsome idea as though it were not a blot on the dignity of humankind, and the requirement for women always to submit to their menfolk is no less repugnant.

So isn’t this always the case even without these religious influences?

Show me a non-religious society that feels so threatened by the thought of female sexuality that it will slice off the clitoris of a young girl to ensure she can never experience sexual pleasure. Show me a non-religious society that feels the need to cloak women from head to toe and force them to experience the outside world through a slit of a few square inches. All three Abrahamic religions share the myth of Adam and Eve, the myth that it was through woman that evil was let loose in the world. They share the heritage of Leviticus, which declared a menstruating woman unclean, to be set aside, untouched, a revulsion that remains even today among some orthodox Jews, who will refuse to shake a woman’s hand for fear she may be menstruating. What kind of lunacy is this? It is the lunacy of a Bronze Age mindset fossilized by the reactionary forces of religion.

But of course the lunacies derived from religious beliefs neither begins nor ends here; it’s a fount for lunacy that keeps on giving.

Religion is one lie after another: the lie of original sin, the lie of eternal life, the lie of hell, the lie of answered prayer, the lie that life can have no meaning without religion, the lie that religion is the source of morality, the lie of creationism, the lie of a spy-in-the-sky who hears your every word and reads your every thought. And to this list we must add the lie that it views men and women as equal. It has got away for so long with the kind of lunatic word-games that allow death-by-torture to be presented as an act of love, and eternal torment in the flames of hell to be seen as a necessary act of justice, that we should perhaps not be surprised that it has also managed to dupe its followers into seeing the systematic suppression and silencing of women as an act of liberation and equality. Nevertheless, it is a lie, like all the others: a cynical and wicked lie. It is time women everywhere woke up to it.

That would be a good start.

August 1, 2010

Can you imagine what law based on catholic dogma might look like in action?

Oh, wait. We don’t have to imagine. We have Guanajuato! The catholic church must be so pleased.

From Change.org with bold added:

Six women in the conservative Mexican state of Guanajuato have been sentenced to 25 to 30 years prison time for the crime of making decisions about their own bodies.

Actually, that’s not completely accurate: one woman’s crime was having a body that made the decision for her.

Ms. Magazine reports that the six women were tried and sentence for homicide under laws criminalizing abortion. Activists working with the women reports that all six defendants were poor and had little education. Two were impregnated by rape, and all were abandoned by the sperm-providers. One had a spontaneous abortion, a.k.a. a miscarriage.

Is this not exactly what we would expect to find with catholic dogma about sex ed, contraception, and abortion at work in the legal system?

Guanajuanto can brag about sporting the country’s harshest penalties for abortion, which is only legal in Mexico City, and even rape survivors can face 25 to 30 years in prison.

Guanajuato can also brag about having the country’s highest teen pregnancy rate, which might be related to the utter refusal to teach sex education in schools in the area. The mayor even tried to ban passionate kissing in public, and duly became a laughingstock.

It was also the only state to fail to enact legislation against gender violence, such as rape, despite the fact that this had been required on the federal level. The excuse for not instating such a law? Well, because violence against women in Guanajuanto doesn’t exist, so it’s just silly to have legislation against it. I guess they said as much to the women who decided to abort the pregnancy caused by their rapist.

After all, why attempt to prevent unwanted pregnancy by teaching youth about sex and birth control or instituting legal protections for women against rape when you can simply throw vulnerable women in jail for ending a pregnancy that they didn’t want and were unprepared to provide for.

Why not attempt to prevent this unfolding tragedy? Because it goes against being a good little catholic, silly, and would interfere with what is much more important than criminalizing some women: what is much more important is to institutionalize the catholic church’s misogynistic teachings, of course. Yes, the church can be very proud of this progeny of turning women into incubators for rapists or murderers. Well done, Mother Church.

Can we feel that burning christian love yet? It’s a different kind of burn…

April 29, 2010

Why should feminism embrace reason and shun religion?

Because religious ideas harm women and restrict their lives on a daily basis.

There is a terrific article with rich resources by Amy Clare over at ButterfliesandWheels from which I have taken a few excerpts and indented below. I urge all readers to enjoy the well-argued and entire piece here titled Why feminism must embrace reason and shun religion.

This fact has been commented on before, and it should be well known among feminists; rather than waste space quoting verses, I will direct you to the website ‘The Sceptic’s Annotated Bible’, which contains lists of the verses relating to women in the Koran, the Bible, and the Book of Mormon. More about Islam can be found at the blog of Kafir Girl, whose article ‘Swimmin’ in Women’ is an irreverent and detailed analysis of the behaviour of Islam’s prophet Mohammed towards women and girls. While there is simply not enough space to fully analyse each religion’s treatment of women, there is some information about the inconsistency of the Hindu texts in relation to women’s rights here, an analysis of misogyny and Buddhism here, and this page shows that even the non-violent Jains apparently can’t handle a little bit of menstrual blood. The only reason that on-demand abortion is not available to women worldwide is the prevalence of religious (most notably Catholic) beliefs that a fertilised egg is a human being. The rise of unwanted pregnancies and STDs including Aids in many countries can be directly blamed on religiously-funded abstinence programmes which are based on beliefs that contraception and sex before marriage are evil. Strong beliefs about the sanctity of a girl’s virginity and the wickedness of female sexual behaviour lead to predictable, sometimes appalling and horrific results, such as girls being buried alive, lashed and stoned to death. And even as women are being harmed by such religious beliefs, they are told that the originator of these ideas, God, loves them.

It is as though mainstream feminism has a ‘blind spot’ when it comes to religion, but it is not alone in this. Religion has managed to carve itself a very nice niche in society whereby any questioning of religious faith is seen to be extremely bad form. Religion seems to have a monopoly on hurt feelings, entirely unfairly in my opinion. It seems to me that some feminists are afraid of a critical discussion about religious faith, because of the ever-looming label of ‘intolerant’, ‘prejudiced’, or, when it comes to any religion besides Christianity, ‘racist’.

Given all of the above, I anticipate in reaction: what business is it of yours what people believe? A person’s private religious faith is none of anyone’s business and you should tolerate it. You’ve got no right to tell people what to think! And so on. These are arguments atheists come across often. Indeed this seems to be the tack that many feminists take. It appears quite difficult to argue against, but here goes. First of all, as Sam Harris points out in his book ‘The End Of Faith’, belief almost always leads to action, therefore, beliefs are very rarely truly private. Believe that it’s going to rain, and you’ll take an umbrella out with you. Believe that a clump of cells is a sacred human life, and you will join a pro-life group and lobby the government to ban abortion; you may even be successful, in which case you will contribute to the suffering and even deaths of large numbers of women. As Harris says, “Some beliefs are intrinsically dangerous.” Indeed feminists do not tolerate every belief. We reject many commonly-held beliefs, most notably the belief that males are fundamentally different from, and superior to, females.

Also, people’s religious beliefs aren’t necessarily freely chosen. The vast majority of religious people are so because they have been brought up to be religious; it has been impressed upon them from an early age that there is a divine creator, and that he should be worshipped in the following ways, and so on. In this way, ‘telling people what to believe’ is really the preserve of religion. All atheists do, if anything, is ask people to question what they believe. If children were allowed to grow up without religious influence and then asked to evaluate the evidence and decide for themselves as adults if there is a god, then it would be a different matter entirely. But this doesn’t happen.

Even in the light of all of the above, there are some who will still insist that merely believing in a loving god – having ignored or ‘reinterpreted’ all the misogynist trappings of their faith – is harmless. I don’t agree. This belief is still based on blind faith, not on evidence, and such a mindset, while promoted by religions as a virtue, is in fact damaging to society. What is the difference between a person who simply ‘feels’ that there is a god, and a person who simply ‘feels’ that males are superior to females? Answer: nothing. Both ideas are uncontaminated by evidence. But the difference, for some feminists, seems to be that the latter view is to be fought against and the former to be tolerated and even praised.

Feminists can all perhaps agree on one thing: that the status quo in the majority (if not all) of the world’s societies is harmful in many ways towards women and girls. A large part of the harm is done by religion, both directly by influencing laws, attitudes and behaviour, and indirectly by promoting the idea that faith is a virtue and thus discouraging the questioning attitude that is so vital for debunking sexism and promoting equality. It is time for feminism to be brave and have a discussion about the real effects of religious faith on women’s place in societies worldwide, not placing the blame on a few extremists but critically examining the whole institution. Perhaps one day all feminists will end up at the same conclusion I came to many years ago: it is not just that the emperor has no clothes, it is that there is no emperor at all.

February 1, 2010

What is Survivor Bias?

Focus on the Family (a right wing christian fundamentalist and biblical literalist organization)  has purchased an advertising slot during the Super Bowl featuring Tim Tebow – a star college quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, and his mother, Pam. According to the group’s press release, the Tebows “will share a personal story” about Tim’s birth in 1987, when his parents were missionaries in the Philippines. According to Pam’s account in the Gainesville Sun, she contracted amoebic dysentery and went in a coma shortly before the pregnancy. To facilitate her recovery, she was given heavy-duty drugs. Afterward, doctors told her the fetus was damaged. They diagnosed her with placental abruption, a premature separation of the placenta from the uterine wall. They predicted a stillbirth and recommended abortion. Yet here is Tim.

The message from Focus on the Family is intended to support the anti-choice movement in the US – what anti-abortionists like to inappropriately term ‘pro-life.’ But its not pro-life at all, and this ad reveals exactly this bias against maternal life in favour of foetal life at all cost, which is much closer to the truth than these anti-abortionists will honestly admit.

Let’s look at the mortality rates for women who have an abruption and see if we can better understand the recommendation to abort made by Pam’s doctors.

In normal pregnancies, the perinatal mortality rate—death of the fetus after 20 weeks gestation, or death of the baby in its four weeks after birth—is less than 1 percent (from a 2001 US study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology). In abrupted pregnancies, the rate is roughly 12 percent. If the total number of abrupted pregnancies in the United States in those two years studies (1995-96) was 46,731, then the number of fetuses and babies killed by placental abruption was 5,570.

And that’s just the U.S. number. In less developed countries, studies have found higher rates of perinatal death. In Thailand, a 2006 review of 103 abrupted pregnancies showed a rate of 16 percent. In Sudan, an analysis of more than 1,000 cases from 1997-2003 yielded a rate of 20 percent. In Tunisia, a 2005 review of 45 cases indicated a rate of 38 percent.

So because Pam was an older expectant mom (37 years old and in a higher risk category) and in the Philippeans where presumably the death rate would be higher than the US for this condition, these doctors recommended abortion not on any kind of pro-abortion medical opinion as the anti-choice supporters like Focus on the Family’s founder Jimmy Dobson and his crusading ilk like to paint anyone involved in medical abortions, but on the  probabilities of mortality for the mother, which is not the only problem connected to allowing a dangerous pregnancy to come to term. Losing the mother in a dangerous pregnancy – a perfectly natural and acceptable occurrence according to anti-choice supporters – has consequences beyond losing the foetus.

Being dead is just the first problem with dying in pregnancy. Another problem is that the fetus you were trying to save dies with you. A third problem is that your existing kids lose their mother. A fourth problem is that if you had aborted the pregnancy, you might have gotten pregnant again and brought a new baby into the world, but now you can’t. And now the Tebows have exposed a fifth problem: You can’t make a TV ad. Hence, this ad is a good example of survivor bias. Pam and Tim Tebow are talking because they can talk. They’re not dead.

If Pam Tebow’s abruption had taken a different turn, her son would be just another perinatal mortality statistic, and she might be just another maternal mortality statistic. And you would know nothing of her story, just as you know nothing of the women who have died carrying pregnancies like hers. Focus on the Family certainly wouldn’t pay for a spot to bring you that story, now would they? But the better doctors know and that’s why they are in an educated position to make medical recommendations. Before we trust those who wish to legalize anti-choice in the matter of abortion on theological grounds, we should remember that abortion is a medical procedure which properly belongs between a woman and her doctor and not in a courtroom nor a procedure that sends people to live behind bars.

Let’s leave the priests and religious tyrants out of any medical decision-making process altogether and, like Pam Tebow, allow these women to make whatever difficult and courageous choices they feel they must make.

Excerpts from Slate’s article here.

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