The Ethical Debate Behind Abortion

I had the pleasure, this past weekend, of attending a philosophy conference devoted entirely to Ethics. There were three keynote speakers, two of whom are among the most widely published on the issue of abortion (and the third was no slouch either!). The two I refer to were Don Marquis and Judith Jarvis Thompson. JJT published, “A Defense of Abortion” in 1971 and Marquis published, “Why Abortion is Immoral” in 1989.

Both are philosophical articles but both are easily accessible to the educated reader. I recommend both to everyone involved with this issue, it’s always good to remember that we cannot rely only on emotions, intuitions, or traditions in this debate… we must have arguments! Neither paper is perfect, but we don’t need to agree with every word to get a lot out of reading them.

The Value of Humor

Good satire should never go unnoticed and The Onion has a great piece up, ostensibly about “Abstinence-Only Lunch Programs.” In reality it’s a clever indictment of Abstinence-Only Sex Education. Some choice bits…

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Excellent Analysis of a Bad Argument

It’s not directly related to choice, but really… it is.  JJ at Feminist Philosophers offers some insight into the argument offered by many on the Gates arrest.

Interview with Dr. Meredith Moore

After the assassination of Dr. Tiller I wanted to interview someone who had lived in Kansas for awhile, someone with a keen understanding of politics and a history of progressive compassion.  After thinking about all the great people I know in the state, I decided the perfect person would be Dr. Meredith Moore, who, until last May, was the long-time Chair of the Department of Communication at Washburn University.  Dr. Moore specializes in both Interpersonal and Political Communication.  The Comm Department website says, “She is the academic advisor for the College Democrats at Washburn University. In addition, she is a member of the National Communication Association, Central States Communication Association, and the Association for Communication Administrators.”  I can speak from experience when I say she’s a great teacher, chair, and person!  What follows are a few questions I asked her…
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Really, Sam, Really?

Recently I’ve had trouble remembering whether I’m on a reputable news site or The Onion.  Maybe news is just getting more bizarre, maybe headline writers are, or maybe I’m just going crazy.  But The Onion could easily reprint a story on Sam Brownback’s latest effort to “recognizes the dignity and sacredness of human life.

Brownback and Dem. Mary Landrieu have proposed legislation called the Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2009.

The press release (linked above) indicates that the purpose of the legislation is as follows:

The Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act would ban the creation of human-animal hybrids. Human-animal hybrids are defined as those part-human, part-animal creatures, which are created in laboratories, and blur the line between species. The bill is modest in scope and only affects efforts to blur the genetic lines between animals and humans. It does not preclude the use of animals or humans in legitimate research or health care where genetic material is not passed on to future generations, such as the use of a porcine heart valve in a human patient or the use of a lab rat with human diseases to develop treatments.

I guess maybe Brownback doesn’t see much of a future in anti-abortion efforts for awhile, so he’s taking up the oft-overlooked, politically-charged, life-threatening issue of Mermaids, Centaurs, and Spiderman.

I suppose the one thing we can all agree on is that “Giant, Razor-Clawed Bioengineered Crabs Pose No Threat.

My Encounter with Randall Terry

“It was as though in those last minutes he (Eichmann) was summing up the lessons that this long course in human wickedness had taught us the lesson of the fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil” -Hannah Arendt

The banality of evil. When Hannah Arendt wrote of Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem she painted him as entirely average, not particularly hateful, and committed wholly to the notion that he was following orders. Randall Terry is not analogous to Adolf Eichmann for a number of reasons, but Arendt’s famous (and, frankly, now over-used) phrase was one of the first things that occurred to me this morning after I attended (and protested) his press conference in Topeka proposing a filibuster of Sotomayor.

Terry’s banality comes in his manner. He does not (or did not today) come off as a lunatic or an idiot. He is not on the corner of the street warning of the apocalypse with an overgrown beard and loincloth. He’s personable, has a sense of humor, and is well spoken. He is smart, too. But make no mistake, he is extreme, he is fanatical, even most anti-choice people don’t want anything to do with him, and his rhetoric is dangerous. I suppose that what follows is not an outright iteration of why I think this is true, I think most people who read this blog already hold the position that abortion ought to be legal, that it is classless and dangerous to call health care providers “mass murderers” and compare abortion to the Holocaust, not to mention his thoughts on homosexuality and Islam. Rather, I want to sort of describe and comment on my experience.

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Time to Implement the AU’s Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa

The heads of state of the African Union met in Libya for the 13th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union. Agriculture and its relation to economic growth and security was at center stage for the conference. Prior to the conference, a group of women’s rights advocates met to discuss the status of women in Africa.

Tumuslime discussed aspects of the history of women’s status in Africa and stressed the necessity of the AU to effectively address these issues, especially regarding agricultural production and food security. In many African countries women are responsible for the production of 80 percent or more of the food supply, yet women’s decision-making authority falls far short of their overall economic contribution to society.
“The women have always been there and they starve in order to feed their husbands. They starve in order to feed their children, and they starve in order to look after the sick, to look out for the HIV people in the hospitals. Without women, I don’t think, we would be anywhere,” Tumuslime stated in her address. (VOA, June 18)

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What is going on in Rwanda?

Human Rights Watch reports that Rwanda is considering a bill with scary mandates:

First it provides that all individuals who plan to marry must undergo HIV testing and provide a certificate beforehand. Second, married individuals are required to be tested for HIV/AIDS upon the request of their spouses. Third, if a physician finds it “necessary” for a child or an incapacitated person to be tested for HIV/AIDS, he or she may conduct the test without seeking consent and may show the result to the parent, guardian, or care provider.

But Rwanda’s Deputy Speaker of Parliament denies this:

Rwanda has strongly denied reports that its parliament is considering a draft law which would forcibly sterilise people who are mentally disabled.
Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, deputy speaker of parliament, was responding to a call by US-based activists Human Rights Watch to scrap the proposed law.
He also told the BBC that plans for HIV testing before couples get married are strictly voluntary, not compulsory.
Mr Ntawukuriryayo said the lobby group should check before releasing reports.

So, where does that leave things? The bill certainly exists. But what it contains, its status, and so on seems to be something of a mystery right now. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. There’s a fine line to mind between getting info out there and ensuring all the facts are correct, particularly in a world where information can spread as fast as we can type it and our twitter followers, RSS readers, listserv subscribers and blog buddies see it and spread it.

Choice and Native Peoples

My long promised exciting post is still in the works, but here’s an equally fabulous post I came across by Jessica Yee about “Reclaiming Choice for Native Women.”
Here’s a great paragraph at the end:

They say that if we had our land; we wouldn’t have to depend on the system. I’d like to think of the day where we’ll not only get back Mother Earth to take care of her, but we’ll know how to work with our land once more to reclaim “choice” for Native women.

I think it’s safe to say that much of America easily forgets the history of oppression of Native Americans and many don’t even know about some of the major acts of AIM, because, if they know anything about the time period it’s SDS, Black Panthers, Merry Pranksters, Weathermen, etc… I even had a student write a paper once talking about how if Native Americans came and tried to take his land, he would fight to keep it (in a paper in support of Palestine, of all things). Suffice it to say that this general ignorance of history compounds with ignorance about choice amongst most Americans to make the battle for choice in Indian Country central to the battle for choice everywhere.

State Laws You Didn’t Know Were Screwing You

This will be a short post this week, because I’m working on something bigger for next week, so keep an eye out for that!  In the meantime, here’s a great article from AlterNet called, “15 Shocking Tales of How Sex Laws Are Screwing the American People.

Most of these are Southern states or New York, though similar laws exist all across the great land of ours.  Keep your eyes open, read local news, and make sure you know your own state’s laws!