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Discussion in 'Latest Political News and Current Events' started by resident_evil, Oct 30, 2013.

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  1. resident_evil

    resident_evil Senator

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    I recommend the following for honest and civil debate ( I promise:0).

    Actually start with this post (8th post down in this thread) and then come pack to the top if you wish.

    http://www.politicaljack.com/thread...the-intellectually-curious.60668/#post-873948

    Recycling the Myths of Abortion History
    August 5, 2008
    Joseph W. Dellapenna

    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2008/08/recycling-the-myths-of-abortio

    In April 2006, I published Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History—a book that, in the pages of First Things, Michael Uhlmann called the “definitive work” that utterly discredited the history in Justice Harry Blackmun’s majority opinion in Roe v. Wade. Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History was favorably reviewed in a number of other journals, all by reviewers who could be characterized as pro-life, even though some of them noted that I am not pro-life, at least not in the narrow sense of endorsing the view that life begins at conception.

    The book met complete silence, however, from those who support free choice for abortion—at least until last fall, when Carla Spivack, an assistant professor of law at Oklahoma City University, published “To ‘Bring Down the Flowers’: The Cultural Context of Abortion History in Early Modern England,” in the William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law.

    Spivack asserts that Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History “relies on a serious misreading of cases and ignorance of the relevant historical, medical, and cultural context.” She goes so far as to claim that I “falsif[y] the record.” These would be devastating conclusions, if they were true.

    Unfortunately, Spivack is wrong on all counts. Instead of describing or recounting the evidence I presented or the analyses I developed, she simply recycles the new orthodox abortion history that my book sets out to refute. Spivak dismisses my work by characterizing its various conclusions as mere assertions, apparently without support even in my book, while indicating that others who have studied the point under discussion have reached different conclusions. A reader would never guess from reading Spivack’s article that I not only presented considerable evidence and careful analysis to support my own conclusions, but that (unlike Spivack) I presented, often at great length, the evidence and analysis of the others to whom she refers, and I set out to demonstrate, in detail, that their evidence does not support their conclusions. Spivack so fails to engage the contents of my book that I found myself wondering how much of my book she had actually read.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  2. resident_evil

    resident_evil Senator

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    The new orthodox history of abortion posits four theses: (1) that abortion was always a common practice in human history; (2) that voluntary early abortions were not crimes until the nineteenth century; (3) that the nineteenth-century abortion statutes were designed to protect the life of the mother rather the life of the child; and (4) that the statutes were enacted through a conspiracy of men to accomplish several nefarious purposes—to subordinate women, to eliminate competition from women health-care workers with male physicians, and to ensure adequate birth rates among white, Protestant women to prevent “race suicide.”

    This new orthodox history was developed primarily by law professor Cyril Means, Jr. in the late 1960s. At the time, Means was general counsel of NARAL (then the National Association for the Reform of Abortion Laws). He developed this history as part of a deliberate strategy for overturning the abortion laws then in place in the American states. The new orthodoxy was then extended by a number of other historians—principally Angus McLaren, James Mohr, and John Redding—each of whom was publicly committed to defending or extending the right to choose abortion. Blackmun took his history of abortion in Roe v. Wade directly from Means’ work, citing him seven times.

    My book shows—in what some might find to be excruciating detail—how each of these theses does not stand up to close scrutiny. Presenting the history of abortion, I relied heavily on medical records from ancient and medieval times (including books for physicians, midwifes, and herbalists), together with the cultural evidence (including discussions of sin and of crime, poetry and other literary texts, diaries, and so on)—the very sort of documents that Spivack claims to be the first to examine.

    Spivack not only misrepresents the coverage of my book, she also relies directly and explicitly on the writings of Means, Mohr, McLaren, and Riddle without considering the arguments I present as to why their versions of history are distorted or irrelevant. Moreover, Spivack persistently reads back into the material's modern understandings, rather than engaging with what the texts state in their own terms. What, after all, are we to make of her claim that people in the sixteenth century felt more vulnerable to germs than we do today—when the germ theory wasn’t even developed for another three centuries? She is, in a word, guilty of anachronism on a grand scale.
     
  3. resident_evil

    resident_evil Senator

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    Spivack’s glaring problems in her tale of abortion history are illustrated by her account of the available abortion procedures and her reading of a few highly select legal records. Through these, she attempts to demonstrate that the first two and at least part of the last of the four theses of the new orthodoxy are correct—in other words, she sets about to demonstrate that abortion was common in ancient and medieval times, that it was not a crime (at least until late in pregnancy) before the nineteenth century, and that steps taken against abortion were directed at controlling women’s sexuality rather than at protecting fetal life—ignoring the contradiction between the first two premises and the third.

    Spivack indicates that she focuses on the period from 1400 to 1700 in her article, but she invests as much or more of her article on materials that predate 1400. She is highly selective in the materials she addresses from the each of these periods. She also manages to convey the impression that the medical knowledge and social attitudes towards families and abortion were relatively constant over a span of ten or more centuries—she uses the laws of King Alfred (c. 880) and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (c. 1390) to illustrate what people were thinking in the 1600s. Such constancy is rather unlikely, to say the least, but the resolution of that question, like so much else in Spivack’s article, is assumed rather than explored. The only changes that Spivack acknowledges are what she sees as an apparently modest evolution of social attitudes that serves to reinforce her view that abortion in these early times was about repressing extra-marital sexuality and not about the act of abortion as such.

    Consistently with the new orthodoxy, Spivack assumes that relatively safe and effective techniques for aborting unwanted pregnancies were widely known and used. She argues from that assumption that the near absence of legal records of prosecutions of married women for abortions proves that such actions were not considered a crime in the period under consideration. She also notes that the great majority of such legal records of prosecution for abortion involved violent assaults on the pregnant woman or otherwise resulted in her death, suggesting that the wrong was done to the woman and not to the child (as the court records nearly always term the abortus).
     
  4. resident_evil

    resident_evil Senator

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    Spivack draws on a variety of sources (medical books, herbal directories, and midwife manuals) that contain recipes for abortifacient potions. She mentions columbine, ergot, fennel, fabors syrup, myrrh, pennyroyal, rue, savin, sowbread, wormwood, and several identified only by their Latin names. As Spivack never mentions what my book says about these recipes, from her article one would believe that I either missed such information entirely or deliberately omitted it. Anyone who has read the first chapter of my book, however, would recognize that Spivack’s list is actually rather short compared to the great number of substances used in attempts to bring on “obstructed menses.” What Spivack never asks is whether any of these ingredients actually worked. She is content merely to cite Riddle to the effect that these formulas would be effective—even though Riddle’s own science advisors, whom he consulted on the effectiveness of the abortifacient potions he studied, publicly repudiated Riddle’s claims of effectiveness.

    That these purported abortifacients were ineffective should hardly be a surprise: Spivack herself quotes statements demonstrating that the recipes involved magic (timing the potion to a phase of the moon coupled with bleeding). In fact, potions ranged from wholly ineffective, to dangerous but unlikely to abort, to likely to kill the fetus by killing the mother—as considerable modern research has verified. No wonder anthropologists Georges Devereaux concluded that primitive abortion techniques (including ingestion, injury, and intrusion techniques) were tantamount to suicide.

    This is why the legal record in the Middle Ages contain so few prosecutions for voluntary abortions (whether for married or for unmarried women)—and is so full of prosecutions for infanticide (for both married and unmarried women). Spivack never mentions the prevalence of infanticide, a topic I address in Chapter 2. These simple facts also explain why so many abortion attempts were prosecuted (before the Reformation) as witchcraft rather than as abortion or attempted abortion: Often no one knew whether the woman was pregnant, but with the right evidence one could easily tell that she, and her associates, were casting spells and using magical potions.
     
  5. resident_evil

    resident_evil Senator

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    Finally, Spivack tries to make a great deal out of the presentation of these formulas as being intended to relieve “obstructed menses” rather than abortion. Despite admitting that the harsh and unhealthy lives that women then lived caused many problems with their menstrual cycles and that often no one could determine if pregnancy was the cause of a missed period, Spivack insists that everyone must have understood that the potions, if they worked, actually caused an abortion.

    Yet the only source that Spivack quotes at length stated that these potions were to be avoided if the women suspected she was pregnant, and that if the potion were to produce an abortion, it would be murder. Spivack tells us that the reference to murder was a mere “afterthought,” and besides it was all part of a code so that the author would not get in trouble while conveying the necessary information. She does not reveal how one is to recognize an insincere afterthought apart from its inconvenience for her argument. And why would there be a need for a code if, as Spivack insists, most people (including those in authority) saw nothing wrong with abortion?

    Spivack is no more satisfying with legal materials. She repeatedly insists that the records from royal courts involved (1) unmarried women, (2) undergoing late-term abortions, and (3) involving violence against the women. From these claims, she concludes that abortion early in gestation or as a means of birth control within marriage was not a crime, at least without a violent assault on the woman.

    In fact, most of the legal records do not clearly indicate the marital status of the woman. In the face of this silence, Spivack infers over and over again that the woman was unmarried and it was resort to abortion to hide her other crime (fornication or adultery) that was the target of the prosecution, not the killing of the child. She never considers why we should consider the marital status of the woman relevant if the records of the time didn’t bother to mention that status. Moreover, Regina v. Sims (1601), one of the best known of the abortion cases in English law, clearly involved a married woman.
     
  6. resident_evil

    resident_evil Senator

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    As for the timing of the abortion, Spivack closely analyzes the phrasing of a few legal records to conclude that the child was close to being born. This, she asserts, was true of all of the abortion cases from the period she studies. She places great weight on the use of the Latin term puer (child) rather than infantum (infant) as indicating a late-term abortion, or the description of the mother as “great with child” as indicating that the woman was in an advanced state of pregnancy.

    It is unclear whether describing a fetus as a puer instead of an infantum actually advances her argument, as both terms normally refer to a child after it is born and neither taken by itself would suggest an embryo or an early fetus, while the “great with child” expression is rare in the legal records. And she simply fails to grapple with the significance in all of these matters that the legal records generally describe the wrong as the killing of a “child”—whether puer or infantum.

    Spivack’s willingness to ignore the many other cases that do not support her position is most telling with Rex v. Code, a case from 1281, in which the court’s record indicates that the dead child was of “one month’s gestation.” Altogether, there are dozens of such cases involving an abortion in the period 1200 to 1700, all of which are discussed and many of which are quoted, in Chapters 3 and 4 of Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History.

    I could go on and on, as I did in my book. But I think the point is clear. Spivack assumes what she needs to demonstrate, ignores the evidence and analysis that I developed, and reads back into the historical record modern ideas that most likely never occurred to the people of the time. It makes for a compelling story—if one overlooks its internal inconsistencies and anachronisms. As such, it is representative of the “scholarship” supporting the new orthodox history of abortion—a history devised (and still used) in order to support a claimed constitutional right to choose abortion.

    While those who read the “personal aside” that opens my book will know that I am not opposed to abortion before eight weeks of gestation, there is simply no basis in history for the claim that such a right is embedded in our Constitution.

    Joseph W. Dellapenna is Professor of Law at Villanova University School of Law and the author of Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History.
     
  7. resident_evil

    resident_evil Senator

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  8. resident_evil

    resident_evil Senator

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    The Supreme Court Relied On a False Account of the Legal History of Abortion

    In Roe versus Wade, the Supreme Court in general and Justice Blackmun in particular, relied too heavily on Professor Cyril Means' account of the legal history of abortion both in England and in America. This history was deeply flawed. It was specifically in error in its claim that abortion was a "common law liberty" both in England and in America until the 19th century. This history also incorrectly claimed that the statutes of the 19th century that made abortion illegal were directed primarily at protecting the health of women, not the lives of unborn children.

    In his meticulously referenced book, Dellapenna demonstrates that both of these claims are false. In the following passage he summarizes what he then demonstrates in detail in the next thirty pages:
    Dellapenna continues:
    The Legal Status of Abortion in England and America Before the 19th Century
    In 1732 we have an account of the trial for a misdemeanor of a woman in Derby, England. This is perhaps the first recorded trial of an abortion caused by using an "intrusive" instrument. The citation is from an account of the trial published in The Gentleman's Magazine [3]:
    COUNSEL (FOR THE KING)

    Gentlemen, you have heard the Indictment read, and may observe, that the Misdemeanor for which the Prisoner stands indicted , is of a most shocking Nature; to destroy the fruit in the womb carries something in it so contrary to the natural tenderness of the Female Sex, that I am amazed how ever any Woman should arrive at such a degree of Impiety and Cruelty, as to attempt in such a manner as the Prisoner has done, it has really something so shocking in it, that I cannot well display the Nature of the Crime to you. but must leave it to the Evidence. It is cruel and barbarous to the last degree: Call Grace Belfort. After the testimony of the witnesses the account of the trial concludes:

    Dellapenna comments on the fact that the abortion concerned a child in the pre-quickening stage of the pregnancy:
    19th Century Legislation on Abortion in New York State

    New York State set the legal trend in the 19th century and has been most completely studied by historians, so there is more evidence to be examined here than in any other state. It was also in the New York Law School that the late Professor Cyril Means taught and it is the focus of his history. Dispelling therefore uses the developing abortion legislation in this State to show that the protection of fetal life was central in the legislation of 1829, 1845, 1869 and 1872.
    By the middle of the 19th century abortion was growing and becoming more common. Opposition to it was growing too. On February 5, 1867, the Medical Society of New York at Albany produced a series of resolutions, the preamble of which read:
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  9. resident_evil

    resident_evil Senator

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    A section from the 1872 act will suffice to show the tenor of the statute:
    In 1901 Judge Pearson of Maryland reflected on the fact that in "...these days of 'advanced' surgery and marvelous medical science and skill, operations are performed and powerful drugs administered by skillful and careful men without danger to the life of the patient." But he points out that the prosecution of abortionists is first and foremost directed at protecting the life of the unborn child rather than the life of the woman.
    The woman takes her life in her hands when she submits to an abortion, be she wife or maid, but her death is no necessary element in the procuring of an abortion and the application of the harsh rule here contended for would have no effect in the repression of that abhorrent crime, which can only be efficiently dealt with by severity in the enactment and administration of the law punishing the attempt upon the life of the unborn child... The corpus delicti of the offense of abortion is the destruction of the unborn infant. [9] Summary

    The above quotations will suffice in this brief glimpse from a very substantial book to give the reader a sample of Dellapenna's position. This position he trenchantly described in the early pages of the book:
    In the wake of these conclusions demonstrated with unflinching thoroughness, Dellapenna puts a challenge before the Court in these words:
    Further Considerations
    With this in mind I offer the following reflections

    1. Roe states: "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." (Ch. IX, A)

    Have any fresh events helped to establish this "personhood"?

    What are we to say about the child in utero who can now be removed for surgery and then replaced in its mother's womb and carried to term? A famous photograph shows the child's hand reaching out of the womb through the incision and clutching the surgeon's finger. Are we to consider that the fetus was a person during the surgery and then a non-person once it was returned to the womb until it was later born? Such contentions put a strain on reasonableness and border on the absurd.

    2. Through ultrasound we can now watch the fetus' life in the womb. We can photograph it. The mother can already see and appreciate her child. Does not this have some bearing on whether the unborn may be regarded by the mother and her physician—or even a passing Supreme Court Justice—as a person?

    3. We can now measure the pain that the fetus experiences through the meters that monitor pain. We can estimate the levels of pain at different stages of the child's growth in the womb. Should the law not take cognizance of this fact in its assessment of the legal protection from pain appropriate for this human being growing in the womb of its mother?

    This essay began with Dellapennna's reflections on the search for objective truth in the history of abortion and the law in England and America. But now our search has widened. Now we are asking questions that deeply puzzle and disturb the mind and heart of the contemporary seeker of truth. Questions like this:

    Why did the laws in the 19th century have so keen an interest in protecting intra-uterine life from abortion when the very nature of that life and its development were so imperfectly known at that time? And why in the twentieth century when we knew so much more about its development—when our photography and ultrasound have watched and recorded the wonder of its growth—did we remove its legal protection and allow the refined barbarism of the abortion procedures to destroy this amazing being? As Congressman Chris Smith said on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on May 20, 2004:

    Smith concluded his testimony with the following:

    The sad fact is that many of those who want to keep abortion legal are not that interested in the being and value of the fetus/unborn child/baby that is in the womb. It has been observed that a mother will refer to the being in her womb as a fetus if she is planning to abort it and as 'my baby' If she is hoping to bring it to birth. The being in the womb however does not change—only what happens to it. Is this why pregnant women in an abortion clinic are not allowed to see the inhabitant of their womb on ultrasound, while the physician preparing to do the abortion uses this technology to assess the exact age of the fetus and the exact procedure needed to destroy it? They must not be allowed to see the reality of their child or the might think twice about aborting it. This theory is supported by the fact that statistics from the Pregnancy Resource Centers show that, of those who stop by on the way to the abortion clinic and use the center's ultrasound to view their baby, about 90% change their minds and decide to have their child.

    After the horror of the Nazi eugenics program that occurred before and during World War II the World Medical Association adopted the Declaration of Geneva in 1948 setting forth a "standard" for medical ethics. It runs:

    It would be great if we could go back to this. Go back to what doctors, feminists, lawyers and judges were proclaiming with great fervor in the 19th century at the moment when the progress in surgery and antisepsis was making abortion an almost safe procedure. In this first decade of the new millennium, when it is estimated that at least 80% of abortions are performed—not after rape, not to save the life of the mother or for any of those other "crisis" reasons that played so prominent a role in the persuasive arguments of NARAL—as a back-up to failed contraceptives; it would be good at a time like this, to discover and proclaim who we are as rational human beings. Then, conscious of our dignity from conception to natural death, we might at world level—perhaps via another more extensive human rights declaration by the United Nations—set about restoring legal protection for our unborn children.

    "Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you."

    Fr. Ralph Wright
    January 9, 2008​
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  10. as seen on tv

    as seen on tv Senator

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    one can certainly find fault with the penumbra emanting process by which the supreme court arrives at roe v. wade and other decisions . . . I know I do. Major re-sets in social policy should arise from laws passed by congress, not a series of court challenges eventually arriving at the supreme court for a split decision after a decade of back and forth reversals.

    that said, a clear majority of the public favor abortions. they should have the right to pass laws to that effect in their states. congress can pass a national law (or amendment) guaranteeing the right to abortion) as well. I support abortion rights. I do not support penumbras and court decisions which are transparently political.
     
  11. NightSwimmer

    NightSwimmer Senator

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    • Like Like x 1
  12. Bo-4

    Bo-4 Senator

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    Swimmer's video is far more entertaining than your endless spam.

    Just sayin' ;)
     
  13. resident_evil

    resident_evil Senator

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    Evidently the debate is about an abortion free for all, which is what we have today when 50% of abortion seekers are repeat offenders (sorry) having at least 1 other abortion, and regulated abortion. Even Roe v. Wade allows for states to regulate abortion. States just can't ban it outright.
     
  14. resident_evil

    resident_evil Senator

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    How is porting an article spam. I realize old habits die hard but I'd appreciate it if you both deleted your spam like posts on this thread. [​IMG]
     
  15. Bo-4

    Bo-4 Senator

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  16. resident_evil

    resident_evil Senator

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    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  17. resident_evil

    resident_evil Senator

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  18. Bo-4

    Bo-4 Senator

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    No, it doesn't help with quoting the slightest. Hence, i shall refer to you as - bandwidth_bandit ;-)
     
  19. resident_evil

    resident_evil Senator

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    I was biting my tongue, but.... You wanna talk bandit?!?! You may be pointing at me with a finger but the other three are pointing right back at ya. Have you read that un-serious tripe you've been peddling lately?

    Actually, this is just a bump.
     
  20. Bo-4

    Bo-4 Senator

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    I admire guys who admit to shameless self-bumps. ;)
     
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